When a natural disaster occurs, it throws everyone into a state of crisis management. However, it can also pose unexpected threats in terms of the health of survivors and disaster workers.
In fact, development of mesothelioma can be an outcome of spending time at a site post-disaster where asbestos is present. For this reason, all people assisting with the aftermath of floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters should take precautions.
For about a century, the naturally occurring mineral asbestos was used in a variety of situations. Innovators began adding asbestos to lots of construction and interior design materials and applications. This is why most buildings constructed prior to 1980 likely contain some form of asbestos.
When asbestos remains undisturbed, it is not an immediate health concern. Problems usually occur when asbestos is jostled around, and the particles become airborne.
Asbestos that has been disturbed can release dust into the environment. The dust consists of tiny particles that have a tendency to stay in the body when inhaled or ingested. Over time, buildup of those particles harms soft tissues, especially in the lungs, resulting in asbestos-related diseases.
Natural disasters destroy and damage properties. Winds pick up roofs and structures. Floodwaters cause foundations to shift. Fire peels paint off siding and walls. As a result, buildings composed of asbestos may release asbestos fibers into the air. Anyone around or in the buildings at the time of the disaster, or after the disaster, can come in contact with the harmful particles.
Practically anyone involved in a natural disaster scene can be at risk of accidentally inhaling or ingesting freed asbestos, including emergency medical personnel and disaster workers. Even reporters sent to give updates on the damage caused by a natural disaster may inadvertently take in asbestos fibers.
People will always be needed after a natural disaster to help clean up and rescue people and animals. Nonetheless, those people can protect themselves against exposure to asbestos by wearing protective gear and by safely disposing materials and rubble.
Emergency personnel, like firefighters, as well as homeowners, can also dress in gear that covers them from head to toe. Some professionals wear disposable coveralls and Hazmat suits. After exposure at a disaster site, individuals should shower thoroughly to remove remaining particles.
In terms of getting rid of materials that may contain asbestos, people can wet items to decrease the chances of the asbestos making it into the air. Using heavy duty gloves and equipment, they can move the debris into bags, double-bagging when appropriate and possible. The debris can then be properly disposed of in a landfill or at another waste facility.
Usually, asbestos-related problems take years to develop. This is why many first responders who went to major disaster scenes felt fine until a long time after the experience. However, breathing in a great deal of asbestos may cause earlier symptoms for some people.
A few of the most notable symptoms of mesothelioma or other types of asbestos-related medical conditions include the following:
Individuals who were present during a natural disaster and its aftermath who experience medical concerns should immediately make an appointment with a trusted physician.
First responders who are diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, or another related disease should contact their employers. At the same time, emergency workers should seek legal representation.
Were you recently exposed to asbestos? If so, speak to one of our Delaware mesothelioma lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. today. Call us at 302-656-5445 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Wilmington and Millsboro, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.