Asbestos and the disaster – do we think?

We often see the devastation left by natural distasters; but do we ever stop and think  – wait there could be asbestos in that debris?? Whether it be us here in the United Kindom with the recent floods or natural disasters abroad; asbestos is a real worry for anyone involved.

One prime example is Hurricane Sandy, the 1,000-mile-wide superstorm that took place in America in October. During the peak of the storm, more than 8.5 million people were without power and emergency communications were silenced.

Although six states were hit by Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey and New York suffered catastrophic damage for residents and business owners alike; Sandy is cited for the destruction of 305,000. Due to the dense nature of the impact area of Sandy resulted in 265,300 businesses being affected. This estimated a cost of recovery for Hurricane Sandy at $71 billion. In New York, an estimated 10,000 to 40,000 people as displaced from their homes. City officials estimate at least 12,000 New Yorkers are trying to survive in unheated, flood-damaged homes, despite warnings that dropping temperatures could pose a health risk. In the Rockaways, NY, a resilient and inspiring community, they have endured the unimaginable. Banks, stores, medical buildings, gas stations and more – completely destroyed.

Six weeks later, mountains of debris remained on streets and homeowners fact the daunting task of hazardous debris remediation. Mold, cold, and asbestos are on the minds of many. With the holidays a few weeks away, residents wanted to return safely to their homes. “We’re not out of danger yet,” said Jordan Zevon, ADAO National Spokesperson. “The storm has passed, but the danger has just begun. Our government needs to man up and help Hurricane Sandy victims now by funding toxic debris removal.”

ADAO began using our social networks on October 30th to raise awareness about “Hurricane Sandy: How to Protect Yourself from Toxic Asbestos Debris.” We feel, our federal and local governments have the responsibility to fund the toxic debris removal, training, and health and safety materials that to prevent further exposure to the asbestos in the Hurricane Sandy debris, ADAO have been urging families and volunteers to take the following four steps:

IDENTIFY: Learn where asbestos is in your home.

DON’T TOUCH: Asbestos is a human carcinogen. Asbestos containing materials may release fibers when they are disturbed, damaged, removed improperly, repaired, cut, torn, sanded, sawed, drilled or scraped.

TEST: Confirm the presence or absence of asbestos.

REMEDIATION: If tests confirm asbestos, hire trained and accredited asbestos professionals to repair and remove the asbestos-containing materials.

The collateral damage for Hurricane Sandy won’t be tallied for decades. An estimated 2,600 tons of hazardous asbestos debris was removed after the Joplin, Missouri tornado in 2011, we can only imagine the health impact from Hurricane Sandy toxic debris exposures.

Here in the UK we are lucky enough not to suffer from hurricanes, however we have our own issues such as flooding which may also cause a worry. If you are worried about Asbestos in the home or would like to learn more about asbestos click here.

Information taken from Linda Reinstein ADAO’s.