In Bethpage, Levittown, and Plainview, Nassau County, dust samples from 12 residences have tested positive for a carcinogenic airborne substance, say environmental experts. As a result, a firm is preparing a class-action lawsuit against Northrop Grumman, accusing the company of contaminating the surrounding air from its Bethpage factory years ago.
The dust samples collected in March and May displayed traces of hexavalent chromium—a chemical produced in various industrial activities linked to different types of cancer. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the substance is hazardous, and they have laid out detailed guidelines to protect employees from exposure.
One of the homes tested belonged to Stephanie Ciambra Ball, who grew up in Bethpage. “I remember always seeing smoke and hearing turbines from the nearby plant,” she said. Now a breast cancer survivor, Ciambra Ball questions if her cancer might be attributed to the air she breathed while living there. When informed of the test results, she expressed her disbelief and concern about her childhood home being potentially tainted.
Lois Schiavetta, another resident of Bethpage and also a breast cancer survivor, found hexavalent chromium in her attic as well. “I was somewhat relieved that they found something that could potentially explain what has been happening,” she noted.
Though experts indicate that the current air quality is not harmful, they cannot say the same for the air quality before 1995. The Bethpage factory stopped operations in 1994. Worries about contamination of both groundwater and drinking water have been present since the factory’s inception in the 1940s.
In 2017, then-Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, released a state study that revealed that the pollution around the Bethpage plant was more severe and widespread than initially assumed. To contain the spread, Cuomo initiated a $150 million plan for water well installations. Moreover, in 2022, Northrop Grumman agreed to pay $35 million for environmental clean-up around the site.
Napoli Shkolnik law firm is representing a group of residents aiming to file a class-action lawsuit against Northrop Grumman. According to court documents, their environmental expert claims that historical emissions from the factory pose “significant health and environmental concerns.”
The lawsuit’s status as a class-action suit awaits a judicial decision. Meanwhile, Northrop Grumman has countered by questioning the reliability of the attic dust samples and the credentials of the plaintiff’s environmental expert. In a statement, the company said, “The EPA and New York DEC have found no potential risks to the Bethpage community from past air emissions. We continue to collaborate with federal and state agencies to remediate and protect community health.”
Types of Cancers Connected to Hexavalent Chromium
Hexavalent chromium is a highly toxic form of chromium metal that is recognized as a human carcinogen. It is most often produced during industrial processes, such as the manufacturing of stainless steel, chromate chemicals, and pigments. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), exposure to hexavalent chromium poses health risks, particularly for workers in industries where the substance is commonly used.
The types of cancer most often associated with exposure to hexavalent chromium include:
Lung Cancer – Lung cancer is the most frequently cited type of cancer associated with hexavalent chromium exposure, particularly among workers who inhale the substance in occupational settings. Prolonged exposure to airborne hexavalent chromium significantly increases the risk of developing lung cancer.
Nasal and Sinus Cancers – Inhalation of hexavalent chromium fumes or particles can also lead to cancers in the nasal passages and sinuses. This type of cancer is also more prevalent among workers in industries using the substance.
Oral Cancer – Though less common, there have been instances where hexavalent chromium exposure is linked to cancers of the mouth, including the tongue and gums.
Stomach Cancer – Exposure to hexavalent chromium has been investigated for a potential link to stomach or gastrointestinal cancers. However, the evidence is less conclusive compared to lung and nasal cancers.
It’s worth noting that the risk of developing these types of cancers is greatly influenced by the level, duration, and frequency of exposure to hexavalent chromium, as well as whether or not appropriate safety measures were in place.
Regulatory agencies like OSHA have set forth guidelines to limit worker exposure to hexavalent chromium. However, concerns remain about the long-term health impact of even low-level exposure, particularly in residential settings like those mentioned in your previous question.
For more detailed information and to assess individual risk, consult with healthcare professionals and experts in occupational and environmental health.
Why File A Hexavalent Chromium Cancer Lawsuit?
Filing a hexavalent chromium cancer lawsuit can serve multiple purposes for individuals who believe they’ve been adversely affected by exposure to this hazardous chemical. Below are some compelling reasons why such legal action may be necessary and beneficial:
Financial Compensation: Medical treatments for cancer, including surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, and ongoing medications, can be extremely expensive. A successful lawsuit can help cover these costs, along with compensating for lost wages, diminished earning capacity, and other economic burdens related to the illness.
Accountability and Responsibility: Companies that negligently expose workers or residents to toxic substances should be held accountable for their actions. A lawsuit can serve as a powerful mechanism for enforcing corporate responsibility, both legally and ethically, regarding environmental safety and worker protection.
Public Awareness: Filing a lawsuit can draw public attention to the dangers of hexavalent chromium and other toxic substances. This heightened awareness can lead to regulatory changes and safer industrial practices and even spur research into the health effects of such substances.
Legal Precedence: A successful lawsuit can set a legal precedent for others who are similarly affected, streamlining the litigation process for future cases and potentially widening the scope for who can claim damages.
Ensuring Regulatory Compliance: Legal action can force companies to comply with existing safety regulations, such as those set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which they might have previously ignored or sidestepped.
Closure and Justice: For victims and their families, winning a lawsuit can offer a sense of justice and closure, acknowledging the wrongs done and the suffering caused, both emotionally and physically.
Funding for Treatment and Research: Sometimes, large-scale litigation can result in substantial financial penalties for the offending company. These funds can be channeled into research or treatment programs related to hexavalent chromium exposure, benefiting a broader section of society.
Community Safety: By holding companies accountable, the community at large is better protected. Companies may implement stricter safety measures, adhere to regulations more diligently, and prevent future harm to both workers and residents in the area.
While filing a lawsuit can be a demanding process, the benefits can outweigh the challenges, especially when it comes to protecting public health and holding corporations accountable for their actions. If you have been harmed, consult with our experienced legal professionals for guidance on the specific circumstances of your case.
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