Posted on September 8, 2017
As Houston residents return to their homes and lives post-Harvey, and first responders head down to Florida to battle Irma, we at ADAO hold those affected by the storms in our hearts and thoughts.
As we learned during Katrina, Sandy, and other destructive disasters, there will be asbestos exposure during the clean-up and rebuilding following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Jose, as some building materials contain asbestos roofing, tiles, insulation cement, insulation, and more.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that up to 35 million homes, schools, and office buildings contain asbestos materials
- An estimated 2,600 tons of asbestos debris was removed after the Joplin, Missouri tornado in 2011
- An estimated 2,000 tons of asbestos fibers were released into the air after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001
- There was over 5.6 million cubic yards of debris removed after Hurricane Sandy, including asbestos
- The Huffington Post reported in 2012, “Asbestos May Pose Health Hazards In Hurricane Sandy’s Wake”
There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos, a known carcinogen, and it becomes especially dangerous when the microscopic asbestos fibers become dislodged and airborne, making it easy for humans and animals to inhale them.
For those in storm zones, as you begin to rebuild your homes, schools, or workplaces, if you suspect the building may contain asbestos materials, use the following safety strategies:
- Follow established EPA and OSHA guidelines and regulations
- Hire a professional for testing, abatement, and/or disposal
- Do not disturb, create, or breathe the dust
- Use OSHA-approved respiratory protection when handling asbestos debris. At a minimum, wear gloves and goggles when handling asbestos debris.
The EPA pages, “Protect Your Family,” “Dealing with Debris and Damaged Buildings,” and OSHA Fact Sheet, “Protecting Workers from Asbestos Hazards,” are recommended resources.
Asbestos-caused diseases, including mesothelioma, are preventable. But to protect ourselves and our family, we must face the facts and learn what safety measures to take.