Your favorite news channel informs you of an impending natural disaster, i.e., flood, tornado, storm, tropical storm, or hurricane. You have decided to stay and ride out the storm because you are well prepared. You have canned goods, flashlights, batteries, candles, plenty of water, and maybe even a generator or two (in the event of a loss of power).
Moreover, you are mentally prepared, your family is prepared, and everything should be alright. You were right; you and your family safely weathered another storm, but your home, your neighbors’ homes or your neighborhood received damage.
Therefore, you begin the process of assisting with the clean up and repair of your home, your neighbors’ homes or your neighborhood. Be careful; there may be asbestos-containing materials hidden in the construction debris and any attempt to clean up that construction debris may release breathable asbestos fibers into the air.
Asbestos-containing products were used in many residential construction materials. Asbestos was widely used in building materials and products for insulation and fire resistance. Any residential structure built before 1975 most likely was constructed with materials that were made with large amounts of asbestos.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) homes built between 1930 and 1950 were most likely built using asbestos-containing insulation. The USEPA found that many homes were constructed with asbestos-containing materials which included: sprayed on soundproofing; exterior siding; piping or other insulation; artificial ashes and embers; asbestos cement roofing, shingles, and siding; patching, joint compounds and textured paints; door gaskets; cement sheets, millboard, and insulation paper; resilient floor tiles, vinyl sheet flooring, adhesives; and furnace ducts.
When disturbed or damaged, or due to deterioration, theses materials become hazardous and pose a great risk to you or your loved ones’ health as they may release high concentrations of airborne asbestos into the air. This disturbance or damage to the asbestos-containing materials can occur during a natural disaster, during demolition, or even during the renovation of your home.
During the clean up phase after a natural disaster there are many activities that may disturb or damage the asbestos-containing materials including, dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, sawing, sanding, scraping, or drilling holes. During this phase construction related materials and debris, wood, drywall, asbestos-cement boards, plywood, molding, and piping, may be handled, moved, broken or cut into smaller pieces, thereby releasing the dry or friable asbestos fibers into the air. Sweeping or vacuuming many of the asbestos-containing materials in the debris can also generate asbestos dust.
When the asbestos-containing construction materials are damage or disturbed, friable asbestos fibers are released into the air and may be inhaled into the lungs. The inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. The asbestos fibers embed in the lung tissue and over time can cause lung disease, to include Asbestosis which may cause scarring of the lung tissue, shortness of breath and a crackling sound in the lungs while inhaling; Lung Cancer which may cause carcinoma, anemia, shortness of breath, hoarseness, and chest pain; and Mesothelioma which may cause cancer in the membrane of the lung, chest, abdomen, and heart. Any exposure to asbestos fibers could take up to twenty years to manifest any injury in the exposed person.
After a natural disaster and during the clean up phase, working safely must be your goal. You must use the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Your personal protective equipment may include protective eyewear, disposable clothing or a full body jump suit, gloves, and a mask or respirator. Attempt to minimize asbestos fibers and asbestos dust by keeping the damaged construction related materials wet or damp, and double bag the debris.
Make sure you wash your hands and clothing while still wearing your mask or respirator. Protect yourself and your family from mesothelioma; be sure to use the PPE while cleaning up asbestos-containing construction related materials and debris after a natural disaster.
Mesothelioma is diagnosed in approximately 2000 people in the United States each year. At Williams Kherkher our attorneys are concerned with the legal rights of you and your family. We are always available to discuss your concerns regarding your exposures and diagnosis of asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma. Please call 1-800-220-9341 today.