Spanish Company Ordered to Pay Millions for Damages for Mesothelioma and Other Asbestos-Related Diseases
Uralita, a Spanish building materials company, was ordered by a Spanish court to pay the equivalent of $4.9 million to 45 individuals whose health was damaged by decades of environmental exposure from the company’s asbestos-cement factory. The landmark ruling is the first time that a court in Spain has ordered a company to compensate local residents for health issues, such as mesothelioma, related to environmental exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos is a human carcinogen and exposure is known to cause serious respiratory diseases including malignant mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung or abdomen, lung cancer, and non-cancer conditions such as asbestosis. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 90,000 people die worldwide each year from asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.
The victims lived near an asbestos-cement factory in a Barcelona suburb and were found to have “damage to the lungs, leading in some cases to death,” according to the French news agency, Agence France Presse. Mesothelioma is highly aggressive and is resistant to many cancer treatments. Currently there is no known cure for the disease.
The Uralita factory used asbestos in the manufacture of cement for decades until use of the mineral fiber was banned in Spain in 2001. More than 40 countries including all member states of the European Union have banned all forms of asbestos. Other countries, including the United States, have restricted asbestos use, but continue to allow its use in the manufacture of certain products.