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Hurricane wreckage may contain asbestos

Asbestos-contaminated wreckage that Hurricane Sandy left behind may represent a public health hazard, according to a story in the Huffington Post.

The story says Sandy left wind and water damage along much of the East Coast. That wreckage includes roofing, pipes and insulation, all of which could contain microscopic asbestos fibers.

Of all the potential environmental toxins left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, asbestos is among the most worrisome. Microscopic asbestos fibers can’t be seen, tasted or smelled, but they can have dire consequences for people who breathe them in.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen, associated with lung cancer; mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal cavity; and asbestosis, in which the lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue.

Dr. Arthur Frank, chairman of the department of environmental and occupational health at Drexel University School of Public Health, is quoted as saying: “As a cancer-causing agent, there is no safe level of exposure.”

According to the report, up to 35 million homes, schools and businesses in the United States contain asbestos-contaminated insulation.

Buildings constructed before 1980 are more likely to contain asbestos. But the Environmental Protection Agency has not banned it, and it’s still used in construction materials today, the report says.

The report recommends that homeowners hire specially trained professionals to remove any debris that may be contaminated, preferably while it is still wet or damp. It’s better to err on the side of caution and assume debris is contaminated if there’s any uncertainty, the report says.

If you or a loved one have contracted mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure, contact Lopez McHugh for a free consultation.

See the story here: