In Part I, we discussed medical response to after asbestos exposure. Today, we discuss how to respond to asbestos in your home, school or workplace.
While the building materials that may contain asbestos have been greatly curtailed since the 1970s, asbestos is not banned in the United States and is still in some building materials. Especially in older homes, asbestos could be present in materials like insulation, floor or ceiling tiles, pipe wrapping, roofing materials and more.
When an asbestos-containing material, called an ACM, is solid, there is little risk of exposure. Exposure mainly happens by release of invisible asbestos fibers into the air that are inhaled. When a solid ACM in a home deteriorates, crumbles or breaks, or it is broken or crushed in renovation activity or by sawing or drilling, asbestos can be released in dust and become airborne.
Experts can perform air tests to determine if asbestos fibers are present at dangerous levels and solid ACM samples can be tested in laboratories by professionals. If a dangerous release has occurred, a licensed and trained remediation company should be hired to assess the damage and conduct a safe cleanup of the home. Asbestos cleanup is not a do-it-yourself job.
Likewise, if a homeowner wants to remodel and ACMs need to be removed or altered, a licensed remediation company should be brought in.
School buildings in the U.S. are notorious for containing ACMs. Federal law strictly regulates public and private schools for asbestos management, including in these areas:
- Initial and ongoing inspection requirements as well as surveillance of specifically identified ACMs
- Asbestos management plans, including ongoing recordkeeping, subject to inspection by parents, employees, teachers and their legal representatives
- Specific actions to reduce danger
- Special staff training, especially maintenance and custodial
- Use of licensed professionals with protective equipment for abatement
- Adherence to federal safety standards for demolition or renovation
- And more
Asbestos in the workplace is heavily regulated by federal law as well as that of many states. If you suspect asbestos may be present in your job and you have not been informed about safety measures, talk to your employer or designated company safety official, if applicable. You can also seek guidance from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA or your state work safety agency.
Talk to a lawyer about wrongful exposure to asbestos.