As those of us on the Pacific coast are now in the midst of hurricane season, it is a good time to discuss some tips to avoid asbestos exposure in the wake of a storm or natural disaster. Property damage is common following a severe storm, requiring people to get outside to clean up the mess. While cleaning up the debris, most do not consider the toxins that might be contained in the destruction, posing a potential threat to those picking up.
One toxin often found in the damage left by a severe storm is asbestos. When older buildings are damaged, it is likely that asbestos fibers will be found in parts of the structure not typically dislodged. For instance, asbestos was used in certain types of floor tiles, paints, pipe insulation and other items commonly found in the home. While they may not pose a serious threat when the home is left undisturbed, when torn apart in the midst of a storm, the asbestos fibers may break free.
Those cleaning up after a storm are at risk of inhaling these dangerous fibers, as they are exposed to items containing asbestos. While it is best to leave removal of products containing asbestos to companies specializing in toxic materials, those who must be exposed to the substance should use great caution. It is advisable to pour water over the items to prevent the fibers from floating into the air. In addition, products containing asbestos should never be burned.
Inhaling asbestos fibers can have serious health consequences, including lung diseases, like asbestosis and cancer, like mesothelioma.
Those who have been harmed by asbestos exposure can discuss possible legal remedies with a skilled asbestos attorney.
Source: AccuWeather, "How to Prevent Toxin Exposure After Natural Disasters," Jillian Macmath, May 7, 2012.