The New York Islanders hockey team may be looking for a new stadium after workers from the team's old arena filed a lawsuit alleging that the stadium was filled with asbestos.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was once used in thousands of products and building materials. Asbestos fibers mix well with other materials and help make products flame-resistant, stronger and more flexible.
Unfortunately, asbestos fibers can also become airborne and be inhaled by humans. Once inhaled, asbestos fibers can cause inflammation and eventually lead to crippling medical conditions and cancers such as mesothelioma.
Workers at New York's Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum allege that the entire facility is caked in asbestos, endangering the lives of everyone who works and frequents the building.
"The whole place is covered in it," said the attorney for the facility's workers. "The county is responsible for keeping Nassau Coliseum safe, but it never renovated it or did an asbestos abatement."
County officials inspected the facility and determined it to be safe, but the attorney for the workers claims that independent tests prove that asbestos is present throughout the building. Specifically, the attorney says that the tests showed asbestos in seating areas, hallways, catwalks and other places throughout the 16,000-seat facility.
Stadium workers believe that prolonged exposure to the asbestos in the arena may have endangered their health. Well over 1,000 people have been employed at the facility since it opened in 1972 and it is unclear if fans that frequented the arena for games may also develop mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses.
The awareness that asbestos can cause cancer has become common knowledge in recent years with the growing number of asbestos-related lawsuits being filed against companies that manufactured or installed asbestos-laced products. The news that the stadium is filled with asbestos will likely deter fans from attending games there.
"When people know there's asbestos involved, they tend to stay away," said one asbestos law specialist. "Even if the government says it's OK, fans won't want to come back."