Asbestos has probably been a serious health hazard for centuries, but scientists first drew attention to its risks in the last 100 years. The fibers of the crystalline material may cause cancer and other problems in the lungs and the lining of several major organs. Although it is no longer used in building and manufacturing, it is still discovered in older sites.
Residents of New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward are concerned that the site of a former elementary school is marked with an asbestos warning. The building was sold at auction in 2017 and later torn down. The street corner was recently wrapped with tape saying, "dangerous asbestos hazard." Crews in protective personal equipment were also seen clearing up the property.
A portion of the site is covered with a tarp, but locals are concerned that the destruction of the building sent a plume of dust through their neighborhood when it was demolished. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) stopped construction until an investigation is complete, but some people are concerned that it's coming too late.
"I think they should come over here and talk to each of the neighbors and let them know exactly what the hazard is and what they have over there," one resident said. "They should have let us know they were tearing that building down."
People experiencing health problems due to asbestos exposure may seek financial damages from the people and organizations responsible. An attorney can help victims and their families assess their options and needs during a medical crisis involving asbestos.