December 12, 2012 – In October, Hurricane Sandy unleashed its fury on the Northeast, including the Philadelphia area, with a vengeance. Although most witnesses to the disaster have gone back to their normal daily activities, many victims and relief workers remain focused on recovery efforts. Though they may be aware of the inherent dangers of airborne asbestos fibers, they may not be cognizant of their own risk of asbestos exposure as they go about their tasks of demolition, debris removal and rebuilding such areas as the New Jersey shoreline.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the International Agency for Research on Cancer categorizes asbestos as a known human carcinogen. Though asbestos products are now mostly banned in the United States, asbestos was widely used in building products prior to 1980 and is therefore present in many buildings still standing today. When these buildings are repaired, rehabbed or demolished, regulations govern the safe handling and removal of the asbestos-laden materials to prevent escape of the dangerous fibers into the air. However, when these buildings are torn apart, collapse and/or explode as a result of catastrophic incidents, whether natural or man-made, asbestos dust is released into the air without warning. In these cases, victims are typically too overwhelmed with the disaster at hand to think about precautionary measures to avoid asbestos exposure.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey and Pennsylvania residents digging through the remains of their homes without protective equipment and clothing have put themselves at risk for serious health consequences. Sandy’s wind, rain and high tides caused many roofs to cave in and many buildings to collapse. Asbestos is believed to be non-toxic if it is protected or encapsulated in another building material, and it is also believed to be safe when wet. However, once the material dries out and it starts to break down, the asbestos fibers can become airborne. If the toxic dust is inhaled and becomes lodged in a person’s lungs, deadly diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer result. Developing research also connects asbestos to other cancers such as gastrointestinal cancers.
Safely Handling the Clean Up from Hurricane Sandy
While handling clean-up and recovery efforts on your own, do not attempt anything that will create dust. You may unintentionally cause the asbestos fibers to become airborne if you vacuum or sweep debris during a clean-up or renovation of your home. The fibers are so small that you and others around the recovery area could easily inhale them and not even know it.
It is better to err on the side of caution. Hire trained professionals to handle the potentially toxic debris from asbestos products in your home. These workers are specifically trained to deal with asbestos removal and clean-up projects according to OSHA standards.
The Philadelphia asbestos attorneys at Shein Law understand the victims of Hurricane Sandy and their families are focused on salvaging what is left of their belongings, repairing and rebuilding their homes, and putting their lives back together as expeditiously as possible. It is our goal, however, to raise awareness of the hidden dangers left behind by the storm and the risk of asbestos exposure inherent to the destruction of buildings and other structure. Take the proper precautions as you continue with your recovery activities and hire professionals when necessary.
Call the Philadelphia Asbestos Attorneys at the Shein Law for More Information about the Hazards of Asbestos
For more than 25 years, the asbestos attorneys at Shein Law have fought for the rights of individuals and their families who suffer from asbestos-related illnesses. As dedicated professionals, Pennsylvania and New Jersey asbestos attorney, Ben Shein, and his team of lawyers stay current with the latest asbestos-related news and are committed to raising public awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure. If you or someone you love has been exposed to asbestos or has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, contact our office today. With offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we represent clients throughout the Philadelphia – New Jersey – Delaware region and will meet with you at a location convenient to you and your family, including your home. Call us today to schedule an appointment at 1-877-SHEINLAW (743-4652) or contact us online.