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How Much Asbestos Exposure is Acceptable on the Job?

In April, asbestos was detected at a collapsed building in Butte-Silver Bow County in Montana. Concerns of asbestos exposure were raised after a fire completely destroyed the building in March. A contractor was hired to demolish the remains of the building, putting workers at risk for exposure to the dangerous carcinogen.


Tests concluded that the amount of asbestos in the air was "safe" to work around. The tests showed that asbestos levels reached .011 to .033 fibers per cubic inch, while the current permissible exposure limit is .1 fibers per cubic inch.

Despite this permissible limit, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declares that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. How much asbestos would you be comfortable working around? Whether it is .1 or .011 fibers per cubic inch, repeated and prolonged exposure can lead to serious and fatal diseases like asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Not only do we worry about the health and safety of the construction workers working around the debris, we also fear that the firefighters initially dealing with the burn might have come into contact with higher levels of the carcinogen. If you are a worker who is aware of asbestos at your workplace, make sure your employer is following the strict rules and regulations put in place to keep you safe.

Sources: The Montana Standard | OSHA | OSHA Asbestos Fact Sheet

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