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More asbestos-removal horror stories making headlines

One of our posts last week discussed the dangers caused by improper asbestos abatement. Because asbestos is no longer used as a construction material in U.S. buildings, the biggest hazards occur when buildings are renovated or demolished. These jobs are supposed to be handled by licensed asbestos abatement professionals, but this doesn't always happen.

A few recent news headlines from around the country are good examples of proper and improper ways of handling asbestos in older buildings. The first comes from Connecticut, where asbestos removal at a middle school is being done so safely that activities continue to be held in other parts of the building.

According to news sources, the school is removing asbestos-laden tank and pipe insulation in a mechanical room and asbestos-laden tile flooring in another part of the building. Parents of students were notified in advance, but summer activities at the school will continue as planned because abatement professionals can safely isolate the work areas from other parts of the school. There will also be regular air testing to ensure that children are kept safe.

That story is an example of how things should be done. Unfortunately, there were two other stories of individuals facing criminal charges for their reckless disregard for safety related to the removal of asbestos.

In a case from Ohio, the owner of a real estate development company was sentenced to jail time and fined for illegal removal and disposal of asbestos. Investigators discovered that in an apparent attempt to save some money, the man hired a scrap worker to remove asbestos from a boiler building that was set to be demolished. The worker then disposed of the debris in a wooded area and in trash bins behind an apartment building.

Earlier this month, a man in Philadelphia was sentenced to just over a year in prison for submitting false documents that he had removed asbestos materials from a former church. In fact, he had not done the work. He had also fraudulently billed the property owner for his services.

Because asbestos was used in buildings up until about 1990, there's no telling when this material will be completely removed from structures through renovation and demolition. Until then, it is critical that licensed asbestos abatement professionals are brought in whenever such work needs to be done.

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