Natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes clearly pose a serious risk to anyone in the affected area and to the rescue workers who then come in to assist after the fact. However, outside of traditional risks like unstable structures and flooding, it is important to note that there is also a serious risk of asbestos exposure when older buildings are damaged or destroyed.
Asbestos is most dangerous when the particles are disturbed and it creates a potentially toxic dust. This can then be inhaled by unsuspecting individuals who may think it is just concrete dust or other minor particles.
The problem is that this can lead to a lack of caution. A standard paper mask that helps with things like concrete dust and sawdust is simply not sufficient for asbestos. The microscopic particles can still be inhaled. This exposure can lead to an often fatal type of cancer known as mesothelioma.
When known asbestos is removed from a building, special teams carry out the job wearing extensive protective gear. Many wear full body suits. They wear masks that carry at least the P-100 rating.
After a natural disaster destroys many buildings of varying ages, the first people to respond may have no way to know if the dust and debris contain asbestos. This can lead to extensive exposure for rescue teams and for those innocent victims trapped in the rubble.
Stories like this help to underscore the serious health issues related to asbestos, which still exist in many buildings today. Those who develop mesothelioma need to know all of their legal options.