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November 30, 2020
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Asbestos Exposure is Possible in Wildfire Cleanup

While many people around the country are watching the wildfires that are plaguing the west coast, they’re focused on the loss of wildlife, wooded areas, and property. The danger from the fire and smoke damage is serious, but there’s another danger that’s lurking in the cleanup of these areas – asbestos.

Prior to asbestos being banned for use in home building projects, it was widely used in a variety of applications. Any home that was built prior to 1978 has a chance of containing asbestos in some areas. When these homes burn, the asbestos doesn’t just disappear. Instead, the debris, including ashes, that must be cleaned up may have asbestos in it.

Safety is a Priority

Safety during the cleanup of wildfire debris must remain a priority. Officials are having to balance the need for safety with the need to ensure that people can clean their property so they can move forward with rebuilding. This is leading to some changes in regulations in certain areas.

Officials in Oregon announced that some requirements for handling the debris and ash from the wildfires are being relaxed. This includes allowing for the temporary stockpiling of debris that contains asbestos prior to it being taken to landfills.

Individuals who own four or fewer units can work on the cleanup themselves as long as they meet certain requirements, including wetting the debris and not using paid labor. Still, they need to ensure that they are handling the materials carefully.

Asbestos containment contractors were also included in the changes. With the exception of commercial properties and larger residential ones, fees and notification requirements were suspended. They can also use mechanical equipment, as well as openly accumulate debris containing asbestos.

Asbestos Exposure Comes with Serious Risks

Exposure to asbestos is the primary risk factor for mesothelioma. This is an aggressive form of cancer that primarily affects the lungs, but it can also affect other areas of the body. Regulations were put into place to try to minimize the inhalation of asbestos because a higher level of exposure greatly increases the chance a person will suffer from the disease.

One aspect of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma that’s troubling is that the symptoms of mesothelioma don’t always occur immediately after the exposure. It can take decades after the exposure before the person starts to show signs of the disease. This means that many individuals who have mesothelioma aren’t diagnosed until it has reached more advanced stages, which makes it more difficult to treat.

Anyone who has been in contact with asbestos in their lifetime should try to learn all they can about how that exposure might impact their health. You can consult this website to learn more about asbestos, mesothelioma, and important information about your rights if you suffer harm because of this substance.