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As Hurricane Sandy First Responders Begin to Work, Many Face the Unseen Dangers of Asbestos Exposure
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, a brave team of various first-responders prepares to take on the devastating effects of one of the largest storms to hit the northeast coast in decades. Already facing perilous conditions, these brave men and women will deploy throughout the city, utilizing their valuable skills to bring back our nation’s biggest city and the surrounding towns that have been so inextricably damaged. Although these courageous individuals have prepared for any foreseeable and immediate dangers they may face, no training can prepare them for the anterior dangers of asbestos exposure.
When building structures that contain asbestos materials are disturbed, the toxic fibers can be released into the air and become a threat to those in close proximity. Asbestos was a wildly popular material used in a variety of construction practices through the 1970s. The cheap and heat resistant material remains safe as long as it is undisturbed, but can become a major hazard when an asbestos containing-structure is compromised and asbestos fibers are released into the air. Asbestos exposure can result in a fatal diagnosis called mesothelioma and other forms of lung disease. Hurricane Sandy inevitably disturbed countless structures that contained asbestos and released large amounts of asbestos fibers.
When demolition or reconstruction takes place, strict safety precautions must be enforced to protect those around the dangerous fibers from becoming exposed. But in instances of natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, those precautions are overlooked, placing our nation’s bravest men and women unduly subject to asbestos exposure.
This occurrence is something our nation knows all too well. When Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast, massive amounts of materials containing asbestos were released. Although the EPA took steps to monitor asbestos, precautions were not taken in the areas that underwent the most extensive renovation and demolition, such as the Ninth Ward. Because of this an immeasurable amount of workers and hurricane victims were exposed to asbestos. And the repercussions of exposure will not be known for years, as mesothelioma can take anywhere from 20 to 50 years to surface.
And the worst of it – asbestos is still legal even after we have found irrefutable evidence that asbestos causes fatal diseases such as mesothelioma. Even though countless efforts have been made to ban the toxic substance, the asbestos companies have successfully used their corporate influence to thwart the complete ban of asbestos in the United States.
Baron and Budd sponsors several asbestos advocacy organizations, including the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, in the hopes of banning asbestos and ridding the United States of the carcinogen. The law firm believes proper prevention, coupled with a national ban, is the only way to fully stop the devastating effects of asbestos.
ADAO offers excellent resources on dealing with asbestos debris after natural disasters. Click here to read their comprehensive guide.
To find out what you can do to help support the ban on asbestos, visit here.
To donate to the relief efforts of Hurricane Sandy, visit here.