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Asbestos Exposure at the University of Alabama

Many buildings in schools, colleges and universities today still contain asbestos – a dangerous mineral that is known to cause cancer and other serious health problems. The University of Alabama, also known as UA or Bama, has at least 158 campus buildings that are known to contain asbestos. Students and faculty who were exposed to asbestos at UA may be eligible for financial compensation if they developed a related illness or disease, such as mesothelioma.

For assistance taking legal action against the University of Alabama for asbestos exposure on its campus, contact Bailey & Glasser, LLP. Our asbestos attorneys can guide you through the claims process.

What Is Asbestos? What Are its Risks?

Asbestos is a dangerous, cancer causing mineral that occurs naturally on Earth. Before the health risks of being exposed to asbestos were confirmed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 1987, asbestos was widely used as a popular ingredient to manufacture products. Building and construction materials were especially reliant on asbestos due to its cost-effectiveness and ability to resist heat and corrosion.

Asbestos is carcinogenic, meaning it can cause cancer to those who are exposed to it. Asbestos causes cancer by becoming lodged in the victim’s internal tissues when inhaled or ingested. Asbestos fibers and particles mainly get stuck in the mesothelium, or the protective layer of tissue that surrounds most organs. Over a long period of time – the average latency period is 20-60+ years – these particles can cause enough irritation, inflammation and scar tissue to lead to the development of cancer cells and cause other health problems.

According to the National Cancer Institute, it is possible to become ill from just one instance of asbestos exposure. However, the health risks associated with exposure increase exponentially with the amount that an individual interacts with asbestos. People who are around asbestos frequently, such as students and staff members in a contaminated building at the University of Alabama, are at a higher risk.

Illnesses Connected to Exposure to Asbestos

Exposure to asbestos has been linked to several chronic illnesses that can affect the lungs, stomach, reproductive system, heart and other parts of the body. It can also cause mesothelioma, which is a terminal and aggressive form of cancer. The average life expectancy for a patient who is diagnosed with mesothelioma is currently 12 to 21 months with treatment, according to the National Library of Medicine. However, each case is unique.

Besides mesothelioma, the following diseases and conditions can be caused by asbestos exposure at a school or university:

Symptoms that are often associated with asbestos exposure include trouble breathing, shortness of breath, inability to take a deep breath, a persistent cough, wheezing or crackling sounds, chest pain or tightness, clubbing of the fingers or toes, loss of appetite, chronic fatigue, fever, and sudden weight loss.

Asbestos in School Buildings

Millions of older buildings and homes contain asbestos today. This includes thousands of schools and universities across the country. Any building that was constructed prior to the 1990s could potentially contain asbestos. Inspections have found that schools often have the following asbestos-containing materials:

  • Adhesives
  • Ceiling and floor tiles
  • Ceiling plaster
  • Cements
  • Chalkboards
  • Drywall
  • Fire doors
  • Furnace and boiler components
  • HVAC ducts
  • Insulation
  • Joint compounds
  • Linoleum
  • Pipe insulation
  • Roofing materials
  • Sheetrock
  • Siding
  • Textured paints and ceiling sprays
  • Wall plaster

If these materials are not disturbed, they are generally safe for students and staff members. However, if any asbestos-containing material is touched or damaged – such as during renovations of a building – toxic asbestos dust can be released into the air. This puts anyone in the vicinity at risk of breathing in or swallowing asbestos particles.

Which UA Buildings Contain Asbestos?

Out of 297 buildings across the University of Alabama’s three campuses, at least 158 are currently known to contain asbestos. The university published a list of every building where asbestos was found on its Tuscaloosa, Eastern Tuscaloosa and Dauphin Island campuses.

This list includes, but is not limited to:

  • Bryce Activity Room
  • Adams Hall
  • Aquatic Center
  • Barnwell Hall
  • Biology Building
  • Bryant-Denny Stadium
  • Carmichael Hall
  • Farrah Hall
  • Ferguson Student Center
  • Frank M. Moody Music Building
  • Friedman Hall
  • Garland Hall
  • Hauser Hall and Hauser Hall Annex
  • Law Center
  • Mary Burke Hall
  • McLure Education Library
  • Natatorium
  • Reese Phifer Hall (Communication Building)
  • Rose Administration Building
  • ROTC and A&S Programs Building
  • Smith Hall
  • Stoneleigh Apartments
  • Tutwiler Hall

In addition, several on-campus fraternity and sorority houses tested positive for asbestos, including Chi Omega, Gamma Phi Beta, Kappa Sigma and Phi Kappa Psi. Anyone who worked, lived or attended courses in these buildings may have been exposed to asbestos.

What Are the University of Alabama’s Asbestos Policies?

The University of Alabama has an Asbestos Management Program in place to help protect students and faculty from this health risk. UA’s Environmental Health and Safety Division conducts building surveys, asbestos inspections, sample analyses, air samples, asbestos abatement and consultations.

The university also has an asbestos policy in place, effective September 13, 2022. The purpose of the policy is to “minimize the risk of potential asbestos exposure events to university students, faculty, staff visitors and contractors.” It enacts asbestos containment and abatement rules during renovations and construction projects. Finally, UA has a program to provide relief for families in the Black Belt Region of Alabama, where at least 150 low-income homes may be contaminated with asbestos and other environmental hazards.

What Are Your Rights as a Victim of Asbestos Exposure at the University of Alabama?

If you or a loved one was recently diagnosed with mesothelioma or another illness connected to exposure to asbestos and you attended or worked at the University of Alabama for any period of time, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Keep in mind that with the long latency period, you may have been exposed to asbestos at UA many years ago.

If you have grounds to file a lawsuit against the University of Alabama, you may receive compensation for damages such as your medical costs, pain and suffering, lost wages, or the wrongful death of a loved one. The attorneys at Bailey & Glasser, LLP can investigate your case and let you know if it has merit. Our team of asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys can then guide you through the claims process.

To learn more about an asbestos claim involving the University of Alabama, contact us online or call (866) 871-7971 to speak to an intake specialist. We offer free initial case consultations.