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The judge's decision affects current and future asbestos victims.

The judge’s decision affects current and future asbestos victims.

A federal judge in Charlotte has delivered a startling victory for industries that are part of the country’s long-running asbestos-liability fight, cutting more than $1 billion from what a company owes to current and future victims.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge George Hodges accepted the $125 million figure proposed by Garlock Sealing Technologies, a Palmyra, N.Y., subsidiary of EnPro Industries of Charlotte.

The amount covers claims for mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer of the lining of the lungs and one of a host of diseases linked to asbestos. Attorneys representing current and future mesothelioma victims had asked the court to set liability at $1.3 billion.

But in his 65-page order Friday, Hodges said the attorneys’ dollar figure did not fairly reflect Garlock’s liability. He accused asbestos lawyers and clients of withholding or manipulating evidence, as well as relying on “pseudoscience” to pump up the size of asbestos settlements and jury awards.

In regards to Garlock, Hodges said plaintiff attorneys withheld evidence about their clients’ exposure to company products, “unfairly inflating the recoveries against Garlock” for the decade leading up to the company’s bankruptcy filing.

According to the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, an industry advocacy group, Hodges’ ruling marked the first time in more than 80 asbestos bankruptcies stretching back for more than 30 years that a judge refused to accept the plaintiffs’ estimate for future claims.

In his ruling, Hodges said previous settlements were not an appropriate measurement because they had been inflated by what he called “the impropriety of some law firms.”

Garlock, which makes seals and gaskets for a host of industries, has been a target of asbestos related lawsuits for some 40 years. It filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2010, one of dozens of otherwise solvent businesses that turned to the courts for help in settling thousands of claims of asbestos poisoning.

Asbestos is at the center of the country’s longest running liability case. And Garlock was among the last industrial targets to seek bankruptcy protection. This summer, attorneys from across the country gathered in Hodges’ courtroom for a 17-day trial to argue Garlock’s liability.

Up until the mid-1980s, asbestos was widely used in insulation and as a fire retardant. But its tiny, jagged particles can lodge in the linings of the lungs and other organs, causing cells to mutate.

Companies have been accused of knowing the risks of asbestos for decades but concealing them from their employees. One well-known Texas anti-asbestos attorney told the Wall Street Journal last year that his clients are victims of the “worst corporate mass genocide in history.”

But in his ruling, Hodges accepted company arguments that Garlock’s liability is highly limited, concluding that the concentrations of asbestos in company products are small and mostly made up of a less dangerous form of the fibers.

Source: Charlotte Observer

Are you concerned about asbestos exposure at work or at home? Professional remediation and appropriate protection is always paramount, but a high-quality air purifier with carbon and HEPA also helps to provide cleaner and healthier air. Electrocorp’s air cleaners for commercial and industrial applications feature many pounds of activated carbon for the removal of airborne chemicals, odors and gases as well as the best HEPA filters to remove particles, fibers, dust and more. Contact Electrocorp for more information and a free consultation. 

Green-rated homes are becoming more popular
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

Builders tried for years to entice prospective homeowners to purchase green materials for their new homes. Not as many people as hoped took the bait. Perhaps it was cost or merely a lack of interest, but now builders have a different approach.

More and more companies are deciding to build greener homes at no extra cost…and it’s working. Houses are outfitted with solar power and other green features which ensure buyers will save on their utility bills and other household expenses.

Markets in Washington D.C., Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix and Tucson have seen a rise in interested buyers, particularly because the costs are more reasonable and the promise of cheaper electricity is a significant selling point. KB Homes has noticed a 30 percent increase in interest for green homes now that the costs have remained ‘reasonable.’

In 2010, sales for green homes were at nine percent. Last year, that number rose to 17 percent. The National Association of Home Builders predicts the numbers will reach between 22 and 25 percent by next year.

 

The Green-certification debate

Green-rated homes, such as the Energy Star rating, have been a hot topic within the real estate market for several years now. While studies have shown consumer interest in green-rated homes, signs have also pointed toward those homes selling for a premium.

A study done in California between 2007 and 2012 showed green-rated homes were worth 9% more than non-rated homes. Researchers were also able to make a link between environmentally conscious people who owned hybrid cars, like the Prius, and the likelihood of paying a premium for a green home.

The designation of a green home can be done through different organizations. Energy Star is a certification started by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy. LEED certification was created by the U.S. Green Building Council and GreenPoint was created by Build It Green, a non-profit organization.

Though the National Association of Home Builders is keen to continue on this green trend, particularly now that it’s gaining traction, the National Association of Realtors has tried to limit green labeling as it feels this will adversely affect resale values for non-certified houses.

 What do you think about this debate? Are you in favor of green labeling? Would you pay more for  a green-rated home, even if it’ll help the resale value?

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times

 

Making green homes greener

Electrocorp’s AirRhino AH
can easily be integrated into
an HVAC system

Environmental consultants and experts are often involved in the construction of green homes. Though some people are not willing to pay extra money for ‘smog-eating’ tile, as they can’t always see the benefits of such an investment, an air cleaner is often a more welcome addition.

Electrocorp provides several types of air cleaners for the home. As HVAC systems are common in new homes, an air cleaner such as the AirRhino AH can be attached to the central air system, thereby cleaning the air throughout the house. This unit has a medical-grade HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter which help remove particles, chemicals and gases from the air.

For more information on Electrocorp’s air cleaners, contact us.

 

Some schools have been built on contaminated land
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

Schools are often newsworthy topics because of the importance they carry in our society. We all want our children to grow up in healthy, educational environments and yet mold infestations and other health hazards often plague these institutions.

Over the years, many studies and reports have come out about schools being built on contaminated grounds. As school boards rarely have much money, they sometimes choose to purchase land that has previously been used for industrial purposes. 

Some school boards may also form partnerships with companies to provide them with a dumping ground in return for the construction of different sports fields. Controversy around this very thing is the most recent story to develop.

Earlier this month, an extensive news article was written about a small New York town that has suffered from what seems like a break-out number of cancer cases in its high school students. Briarcliff is only 30 miles away from New York City, but its 8,000 people are close-knit. Boasting one of the best high schools in the country, Briarcliff is a prized location for parents seeking a quiet life with a good education system.

Unbeknownst to them, however, parents were sending their kids to a school where sports were played on contaminated grounds. Up to eight students fell ill with cancer and at least one died. 

Today, parents want some answers. Though there is no direct proof their children’s illnesses were connected to the grounds, speculation abounds.

A short history

The fields your children are playing on
may be contaminated.
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

In 1998, the fields in Briarcliff were used as a dumping ground for a construction company. Though what was dumped was considered safe, many now doubt that claim. 

One year after the dumping took place, testing was done on the fields and high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were found. Some PAHs are known carcinogens and exposure can occur through inhalation, ingestion or touch.The levels were deemed safe at the time, however, so nothing was done.

In 2007, parents started to complain that their children were finding broken glass and nails on the fields. Students were also exposed to a lot of dust and were having trouble breathing. One student spoke of the dust tasting like chemicals. 

The fields were finally closed in 2010, and remain that way today. The school is waiting for soil remediation to be done before re-opening it.

Some parents are considering a lawsuit against Briarcliff, but everyone knows it will be difficult to make a direct correlation between the cancer cases and the land that, though containing several different chemicals, was considered safe for use.

As a parent in this situation, would you bring forth a lawsuit? Let us know your thoughts.

Controlling vapor intrusion in the school system

Though there is not much else to do besides soil remediation when the bulk of contaminated land is out on playing fields, many more schools have been built on or near toxic waste sites. Ideally, the schools should be moved, but that is not always possible.

When dealing with vapor intrusion and chemical exposure, the best option for indoor air quality is air cleaners. Not only will they adsorb chemicals and gases with activated carbon filters, but units fitted with our UV technology can also help keep mold from forming. Our medical-grade HEPA filters will add another level of cleaning by removing airborne particles, such as dust and pollen.

For more information on Electrocorp’s air cleaning units, visit us on our website or call 1-866-667-0297 to speak to one of our IAQ experts.

Airports across North America
are embracing the green movement
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

Airports across North America are jumping on the green bandwagon and making some drastic operational changes. Over the past year, more than five airports have moved in a more eco-conscious direction.

The two areas airports are focusing on are:

  • Incorporating solar power in their existing infrastructure
  • Aiming for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental (LEED) Certification

LEED Certification

LEED was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and is a resource companies can use to ensure they are complying with green practices in the areas of building design, operations, construction and maintenance.

In the past year, at least three airports have been LEED certified.

The Winnepeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport in Manitoba is Canada’s first LEED certified airport and features natural lighting and mechanical systems that help to reduce consumption.  The airport is 25 percent more efficient than Canada’s building code requires.

The Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal in Atlanta received a LEED Silver certification and its green features include water and energy conservation, as well as good indoor air quality. The airport has also used low VOC materials for the buildings, which include paints, sealants and recycled wood products.

The San Francisco International Airport has redone Terminal 2 and garnered a LEED Gold certification for its efforts. The terminal’s eco-conscious features include recycling some of the original infrastructure of the space, while saving on water and energy consumption and reducing overall waste.

Solar Power

Though several airports have made strides to install solar panels on their buildings, there are two airports of particular note that are creating solutions that are both cost effective and eco-friendly.

The Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport recently revealed plans to refit the rooftops on the car rental center and two other garages with 5.4-MW of solar power. The expectation is that 51 percent of the energy utilized by those buildings will be solar powered, resulting in $ 4.7 million in savings over the next 20 years.

The Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority in Tennessee has already implemented one element of its plans by setting up a 1-MW array close to the airport which has already reaped benefits. In just two months, that array helped save over 62 tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the air. The airport hopes to build a solar farm that will, when completed, consist of 3-MW of solar power, an ambitious project for a smaller airport.


Have you been to any of these airports? Let us know what you thought!

Source: Earth Techling

Taking green one step further

Electrocorp’s I-6500 series
are designed for use with
HVAC systems

The trend toward greener airports is encouraging and environmental consultants have undoubtedly been involved in helping to realize these various plans.

As with any construction or refurbishment project, materials are not the only concern for ensuring good indoor air quality. An air cleaning system which operates continuously is a necessity when expecting good indoor air quality on a long-term basis.

Installing air cleaners within HVAC systems in airports will help clean the air of particle and chemical pollutants through the use of HEPA and activated carbon filters.  As a result, in addition to an eco-conscious ethos, airport authorities can ensure healthy air quality for both employees and travelers.

For more information on Electrocorp’s air cleaners, call one of our IAQ experts at 1-866-667-0297 or contact us through our website.

Cities like San Francisco will
benefit from cleaner air in the years to come
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

California has been stereotyped as a health-crazed, fresh food-eating, bikini-wearing destination, but ironically, it is also one of the most polluted states in the country. In last year’s State of the Air report, Californian cities were featured, overall, six times in the top 10 most polluted cities in the United States.

But the Golden state is looking to change that… eventually.

Since $3.3 billion were freed up this year, plans to build a high-speed railway system were approved. Groundbreaking starts in 2013 and there is a lot buzz around this project as experts look forward to what this will mean for the state’s environmental status.

A study published in the journal, Environmental Research Letters, determined this project would be the greenest public transportation yet: greener anyway than automobiles and airplanes. This conclusion was based on greenhouse gas emissions as well as energy consumption for all three forms of transportation.

The new high-speed railway system will serve several cities by linking them together. Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego will one day be connected by something other than a highway.

But don’t hold your breath just now. It may take up to 30 years for California to start to reap environmental benefits from this project: around the time the railway system will become fully operational.

What do you think of this project? Is it too little too late? Share your thoughts with us!

Source: ScienceDaily

While we’re waiting…

 In the meantime, it is up to companies and individuals to do their part in reducing emissions, through carpooling, reducing energy use within companies and taking care of each others’ health and well-being while indoors.

Electrocorp’s I-6500 series is just one of many units that can clean indoor air pollution in the workplace

 Environmental experts specialize in helping individuals and businesses develop more eco-conscious solutions to both indoor and outdoor air pollution.

For companies looking to improve indoor air quality, there are many different air cleaners available at Electrocorp that can make work spaces healthier for employees.

Our air cleaners include activated carbon filters to adsorb chemicals and gases that enter offices from the outdoors, and HEPA filters to extract particulates from the air.

For more information on Electrocorp’s units, contact us.

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