United States Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin is urging Americans to learn about the dangers of asbestos exposure during Asbestos Awareness Week 2013 (April 1-7). For us, every week is asbestos awareness week.
Linda Reinstein, president of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), says the United States continues to endanger public health by importing asbestos, a known carcinogen. Reinstein says, 'I am especially concerned about workers exposed to asbestos during renovations, construction, and natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy.' She added that since 2003, asbestos-related diseases have claimed more than 100,000 lives in the U.S.
Believe it or not, there is not an outright ban on asbestos in the U.S., and the ADAO is working with Congress to outlaw its use entirely, although it is rarely found in new building materials, and its use is mostly limited to industrial applications.
As long as asbestos is handled safely, we can minimize risk.
Here are some basics on asbestos:
>Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber found in rock and soil. Because of the strength of its fiber and heat resistance, it has been traditionally used in a variety of building construction materials as insulation and a fire retardant
>Asbestos in buildings can be disturbed by renovations, demolition, or general construction activities, and wear and tear on materials.
>When asbestos is disturbed, tiny asbestos fibers can enter the air and be inhaled causing major health effects. They include lung cancer, mesothelioma (a rare form of cancer found in the thin lining of the lungs, chest, abdomen, and heart), and asbestosis, which is a serious progressive, long-term, non-cancer disease of the lungs.
>Anyone who disturbs asbestos can be at risk. However it is of special concern from construction, insulation, and demolition workers, pipefitters, boilermakers and others who might disturb asbestos found in older buildings or equipment as part of their work. Construction workers are 11 times more likely to develop mesothelioma than other workers.
>According to the World Health Organization, 107,000 workers around the world die each year of an asbestos-related disease. That works out to 300 deaths per day.
If you have questions about asbestos compliance, how to work safely with asbestos, or how to safely remove asbestos, feel free to contact me, and I'll be happy to give you a free 30 minute consultation.
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Stay aware, my friends.
Chris White, P.E., LEED AP has been helping clients solve problems for 20 years. He is the most interesting engineer in the world. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisWhitePE.