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Natural gas explosion leads to asbestos problems

If one were to believe the defense lawyers for the asbestos industry, the "crisis" of asbestos is over. The product has been banned from many uses in the United States since the early 1990s, and many of the deaths attributed to asbestos induced mesothelioma in the last three or four decades are attributed to older uses of asbestos.

Shipyards in California, Navy ships with asbestos insulation around steam boilers and turbines, roofing shingles, floor tiles in residential and industrial construction, may have exposed workers to deadly asbestos fibers during that period, but that was then, this is now.

Asbestos containing products have not been used in many aspects of residential construction, so surely the threat has passed.

Maybe not.

Neighbors in Grand Junction, Colorado have had two nasty surprises in the last year. The first was when a natural gas explosion occured at a nearby property. The explosion damaged homes and apartments in the area and left some residents homeless.

In the last few weeks, the second surprise arrived in the form of small signs affixed to the still-damaged property. It warned of the presence of asbestos fibers. Apparently, the property that exploded potentially showered the neighborhood with asbestos-contaminated dust. One woman commented that the dust from the explosion covered countertops and needed to be wiped down twice a day.

The neighbors were outraged that no one bothered to tell them directly, and many only found out when other neighbors informed them of the new warning signs. They now want to know why they were not better informed, and how long it has been known that there was a risk of asbestos.

As the asbestos contaminated infrastructure of this country ages and deteriorates, asbestos related diseases may begin to rise. 

Source:, "Asbestos Danger at Explosion Site, Neighbors Concerned," Amanda Brandeis, March 13, 2014

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