Older buildings, including homes, may contain asbestos in their floor tiles, ceilings, insulation, siding, and other areas. Prior to 1980, asbestos was widely used in the construction industry for these purposes.
When materials containing asbestos are intact, they pose relatively little risk. It is when they start to crumble, or the removal process is begun and they are broken apart, that asbestos becomes truly dangerous. Inhalation of even a few asbestos fibers can cause mesothelioma, a rare and incurable type of lung cancer.
For homeowners renovating their properties, asbestos removal is definitely not a Do-It-Yourself endeavor. Only licensed asbestos professionals should remove such materials. You may not know what materials in your dwelling contain asbestos, so professional testing is recommended. If such materials are undisturbed, the asbestos professional will likely suggest encapsulation rather than removal.
Encapsulation seals the asbestos containing materials, so that fibers cannot work loose and become airborne, becoming an inhalation risk. As long as the materials are in good condition, and not already crumbling or otherwise deteriorating, encapsulation is a good option. Covering the material is another possibility, such as installing a new floor over an asbestos tile floor.
When renovation or demolition occurs in the workplace, not only must professionals perform the work, but the employer must have an asbestos management plan available. The plan must not only identify all asbestos materials, but provide instruction for those handling the material to avoid inhalation of fibers.
If a home is damaged by a hurricane, tornado, or other natural disaster, formerly intact asbestos materials may now be broken and easily inhaled, not only by the homeowners, but first responders and construction workers. Everyone on the premises should wear a face mask to avoid asbestos fiber inhalation.
If you live in an area vulnerable to these natural disasters, any emergency preparedness kit you put together must contain sufficient face masks for this worst-case scenario. Even minor damage to a building can result in asbestos exposure.
Laws regarding asbestos removal and disposal exist on the federal and state level. The latter depends on the state, and it is critical that any asbestos removal company is licensed on the state level and in full compliance with all regulations.
Each year, several thousand people are diagnosed with asbestos-related mesothelioma in the United States. While the disease is treatable with chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, there is no cure, and it is aggressive.
Many of the victims of this terrible disease, which affects the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen, are construction workers who were not properly trained or protected during the asbestos removal process, or who did not know they were exposed to asbestos in the course of their work.
It can take years for mesothelioma to develop after exposure, but asbestos inhalation is its primary cause.
If you or a loved one have suffered from asbestos exposure or potential exposure, you need the services of an experienced asbestos lawyer in Philadelphia from Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler. To set up a free initial consultation, complete our online form or call us at 215-569-4000 today.