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Talk to Terrie: Helpful Hints to Find Documents for Part E Claims

September 14, 2021

September 14, 2021

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Sometimes in the course of the claim process you may be asked to provide evidence that you were exposed to a toxic substance.  “Where in the world will I find that information?”  You’d be surprised by what you can find on the internet!

An authorized representative (AR), who is a family member of the worker reached out to me for help.  The claimant worked at the Paducah plant during the clean-up period around 2010.  The industrial hygienist report said that the claimant would not have been significantly exposed to asbestos.  We thought the reason was that asbestos was no longer widely used, especially at a Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear weapons facility.

I decided to do a little research.  The first hit I got using “asbestos abatement Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant” was a power point presentation from the U.S. Department of Energy Environmental Management.  This report shows that the clean up of asbestos began in 2010.  Since I knew the building numbers he worked in, I narrowed the search and found this DOE action plan.

I tried the same search term but inserted Rocky Flats instead of Paducah.  I was able to locate documents.  This report from 1997 provides a general list of where asbestos could be found.

  1. Drywall tape and joint compound.
  2. Floor tile.
  3. Cementious walls, excluding the transite panels above the exterior windows.
  4. Pipe insulation for steam, condensate, domestic cold water, and domestic hot water.
  5. HVAC fan coil unit on roof approximately 100 s/f. Approximately s/f of above items; a. 4,000 s/f – b. 10,500 s/f – c. 14,000 s/f – d. 900 1in.R. the 900 lin. fi. has fiberglass included.

Other search terms that should bring some results are “D & D operations at (insert facility name)” or “Clean up of (insert facility name)”.

Finding evidence linking exposure to toxic substances and a disease can be daunting.  The Department of Labor’s Site Exposure Matrix is a good start.  However, not every disease listed in the Health Effects List has a link to the disease.  For instance, stomach cancer does not have toxic substance listed that could result in the disease.

Do not be discouraged.  The Collaborative on Health and the Environment has a Toxicant and Disease Database.  I searched for stomach cancer and found there is “good evidence” that 13 toxic substances could be responsible for the development of stomach cancer.  Remember the programs’ standard of causation is “at least as likely as not a contributing factor”.  A claimant does not need to prove exposure caused a disease.

The next step would be to determine what the worker was exposed to and locate scientific papers that shows a relationship between the disease and toxic substance.  I get the best results using Google Chrome and then clicking on Google Scholar.

I hope some of you found this information helpful.