It is not uncommon for property owners to encapsulate asbestos-containing building materials rather than remove and eliminate the dangerous components. Encapsulation means that the materials are wrapped or covered to guard against destruction or deterioration. Unfortunately, a building fire can destroy the encapsulation and expose the asbestos-containing materials underneath. Those who enter a fire-damaged building run the risk of asbestos exposure and the resulting conditions.
While it might be tempting to immediately begin fixing a fire-damaged building, there are several tips that should be followed to avoid asbestos exposure, including:
- Treat all materials as if they are contaminated: During clean up, it is wise to remember a wide range of construction and finishing materials contain asbestos. From floor tiles and roofing shingles to pipes and insulation, numerous parts of a building likely used asbestos. It is wise to assume that all materials are hazardous.
- Assume areas are contaminated: Following directly from the first tip, individuals should assume that all damaged areas are contaminated unless told otherwise by a professional. From breathing particulate matter in the air to handling damaged materials, it is wise to avoid all damaged areas until they are deemed safe by professionals.
- Hire professionals to thoroughly clean damaged areas: The best way to avoid exposure and reduce risk is to ensure the fire-damaged areas are cleared by experts.
- Wear protective clothing at all times: It is important to wear protective gear when encountering a trouble zone. With gear that covers the skin and eyes as well as filter the air you are breathing, you might be able to protect yourself from exposure.
Whether inhaled or ingested, exposure to asbestos fibers can have devastating consequences. Conditions such as asbestosis, mesothelioma or lung cancer can irreparably harm the lungs and can prove fatal in many cases.