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Is Asbestos Exposure Common During Flooding?

abestos flooding

Exposure to asbestos often leads to serious health conditions, including mesothelioma. Many older buildings and products were made with asbestos because of its heat- and fire-resistant properties. However, people who have been exposed to disturbed asbestos fibers often develop serious health issues.

Home damage can also release asbestos fibers into the air. Many older homes have asbestos in them, and floods can expose asbestos, making it hazardous for anyone breathing the air in that area.

Asbestos that is undisturbed in your home is most likely not a danger to you. It is when the asbestos is disturbed, like in a flood, that it becomes dangerous. Since a flood can damage a home, any asbestos contained within the flooring, walls, and ceilings will be exposed.

When asbestos is exposed to the air, people can inhale these tiny fibers. Asbestos can also float on water, increasing the amount of asbestos you might inhale. Large quantities of asbestos might be found in the following:

  • Wall panels
  • Roofing insulation
  • Pipe insulation
  • Heating and cooling systems
  • Flooring
  • Paints
  • Caulking
  • Ceilings
  • Adhesives

Asbestos fibers that are released into the air after flooding can cause serious health issues for anyone exposed. These fibers are also incredibly small, making them nearly impossible to detect and easy to inhale without noticing.

How Can I Prepare My Home for Restoration?

When your home has been damaged due to flooding, you may have had to evacuate to stay safe. When you return, all you want to do is get the house fixed. That may mean you need to clean it out first, but this is where it can become precarious because there could be a lot of hazardous asbestos fibers floating around.

You should have a professional restoration team come and remove items and restore your home. They will take the proper precautions to ensure asbestos is not inhaled. However, if you need to do the removal yourself, there are several ways you can stay safe:

  • Always wear proper personal protective equipment, including a respirator mask.
  • Use disposable gloves, hats, and coveralls.
  • If any asbestos material is wet, keep it wet, as that will reduce the amount of asbestos fibers released into the air.
  • Do not break or damage asbestos materials.
  • Do not use a regular household vacuum cleaner.
  • Place all asbestos material into waste bags for proper asbestos disposal.
  • Any clothing exposed to asbestos should not be washed, the clothing should be thrown away instead.

Who Is at Risk of Asbestos Exposure?

After flooding occurs, usually the first people at the scene are exposed to asbestos. This could include you and your family if you did not have to evacuate your house for safety reasons. Be aware that asbestos could be lurking, whether you were home to witness the flooding, or you returned later to find your home flooded.

The following trades may be at risk of asbestos exposure after a flood:

  • Police
  • Firefighters
  • Emergency response workers
  • Cleanup crews
  • State and federal government employees

Health issues may not immediately show up. The latency period for asbestos is five to 10 years, which means you could be in a different house, city, or job by the time you start showing symptoms. That is why regular checkups after exposure are crucial.

The likelihood that you will develop an asbestos-related medical condition depends on several factors:

  • How long you were exposed to asbestos.
  • The amount of asbestos you encountered.
  • The density of the asbestos fibers.
  • How many separate times you were exposed to asbestos.
  • Your preexisting health conditions.

Why Is Asbestos Hazardous?

Once inhaled, asbestos fibers embed in your lungs. These fibers are not broken down by your body. Asbestos fibers are so hazardous to humans that there is no amount of asbestos exposure that is deemed safe.

When these fibers sit in your respiratory system, they can create serious health issues. The biggest health complications resulting from asbestos exposure include:

  • Mesothelioma: Mesothelioma is an aggressive type of cancer. It develops in the lungs, but it also can develop in the heart, abdomen, or testes. Mesothelioma is caused by inhaling asbestos fibers.
  • Lung Cancer: Lung cancer is also extremely severe and aggressive. Resulting from asbestos exposure, lung cancer is often first noticed through coughing, chest pain, and sudden difficulty breathing.
  • Asbestosis: Asbestosis is a severe long-term respiratory condition that results from scar tissue plaques caused by asbestos fibers. Asbestosis is often a precursor to mesothelioma.

Protections for Those Exposed to Asbestos

Even though there are laws in place today to protect homeowners and workers from asbestos exposure, most homes built before the 1980s have at least some asbestos in them. These laws do not help anyone who is dealing with a damaged home because of flooding.

That does not mean you have no legal recourse against a negligent party, however. If you are a renter, for example, you may have a legal claim against your landlord for asbestos exposure. Manufacturers could also be liable for any asbestos exposure. When a company makes a product or builds a structure, they have to do so in a safe way that does not expose others to harm. Since you have been exposed to asbestos when your home flooded, you may have a legal case against a manufacturer.

Your ability to bring a legal claim against a negligent party for your asbestos exposure is dependent upon many factors. The best way to protect yourself and your family is to speak with a lawyer to find out if you have a valid legal claim.

What Should I Do if I Have Been Exposed to Asbestos?

Anyone who has been exposed to asbestos is at risk. However, not everyone who has been exposed to asbestos will develop a serious illness. If your home has flooded or you have worked in a flooded home, you may have been exposed to asbestos.

Your first step is to ensure you and your loved ones are safe. Work with your family physician to schedule tests to make sure that you catch any medical issues as quickly as possible. The sooner you can be diagnosed with an asbestos-related medical condition, the sooner you can begin treatment.

You should also speak with an experienced lawyer right away. You may have legal options for a lawsuit that could help you cover your costly medical expenses. You did not choose to be exposed to asbestos, so you should not be on the hook to cover your medical bills and other financial losses.

Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler Protect Those Exposed to Asbestos

Asbestos can cause serious health problems, like mesothelioma. If you have developed mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos during flooding, you may have options available. Our Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler can help you explore your legal options. Call us at 215-569-4000 or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation today. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia County.