NY Contractor Sentenced

The Associated Press reports that “A contractor in western New York has been sentenced to six years in prison for violating the Clean Air Act and exposing workers and the public to toxic asbestos during a demolition project at a hospital.” According to federal prosecutors, workers lacking protective suits saw the asbestos at this hospital project fall “like snow,” the AP reports. The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act aims to protect human health and the environment by reducing toxic air pollutant emissions known to cause serious disease and cancer, reducing outdoor air pollution, and ending the production of ozone-damaging chemicals.  The 1990 Clean Air Act, the most recent version of this 40-year-old law, calls for the regulation of a number of dangerous chemicals, including asbestos. Asbestos exposure has been linked to a number of lethal respiratory diseases and cancers, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Once disturbed, this mineral’s tiny fibers can easily be inhaled or ingested, becoming trapped in the lungs and other internal tissues where they can cause dangerous scarring and irritation. Mesothelioma, arguably the most lethal disease associated with asbestos exposure, generally develops after a long latency period of 20 to 50 years. Unfortunately, this disease currently has no cure, presenting patients with an extremely short life expectancy of four to 18 months after diagnosis. Following work done at this Rochester, New York hospital, all of Gordon-Smith’s employees may now be at risk for developing this lethal cancer. The news source explains that in November “Keith Gordon-Smith and his company, Gordon-Smith Contracting,” was convicted of violations in the removal of asbestos, as well as lying to officials to conceal these violations. According to the AP, these violations “occurred between January 2007 and February 2009 at the Genesee Hospital complex in Rochester.” The AP reports that following “a two-day hearing, U.S. District Judge Charles Siragusa also fined Gordon-Smith $1,100 at sentencing Wednesday and ordered his now-defunct company to pay $4,400 in special assessments.”
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