How Flooding Leads to Asbestos Exposure

California is flood-prone because of its coastal lowland, high tides, storms and tsunamis. The state is becoming more at-risk, with wildfires that destroy fauna creating susceptibility to flash floods, and inadequate draining and significant areas of tar and concrete that leave nowhere for stormwater to go, creating urban flooding.

The Public Policy Institute of California reports that flood risks have been growing over recent years as flood-prone areas become more highly populated and built upon. This higher potential for natural disasters in turn may mean higher incidents of asbestos exposure and cancer development.

It is often in the cleanup after flooding that exposure occurs. Flooding damage often requires demolition and building repairs, which can be hazardous in the disturbance of holder homes and businesses. Buildings made before the 1980’s likely contain asbestos materials. Today, asbestos may still be in:

  • Adhesives
  • Furnaces
  • Vinyl tiling and flooring
  • Electrical pieces
  • Felt in flooring and roofing
  • Fireproofing
  • Gaskets
  • Insulation
  • Plastics

Sealing off areas with asbestos may decrease hazards in the home, but flooding and subsequent repairs may lead to disturbance of the asbestos. This can release harmful particles into the air that those in the home may inhale.

Natural disasters can lead to disturbances and asbestos exposure. The harmful material is the cause of mesothelioma cancer, asbestosis and other health conditions. In the case of flooding, first responders, homeowners, residents and those called to make repairs and carry away debris may be at highest risk for asbestos exposure.