In a precedent-setting decision with potentially wide-ranging implications, the state Court of Appeal ruled it is up to California homeowners to bear the cost of removing cancer-causing asbestos from their dwellings.

"Putting the legal debate aside, this means that the California homeowner is going to have to live with the risk of cancer, or pay for the removal out of his own pocket," said attorney A. Curtis Sawyer, who represented three homeowners in a class action case.The precedent set in the case decided by the 1st District Court of Appeal Wednesday could also affect schools and public buildings with asbestos cleanup problems.