How Floods Can Increase The Risk Of Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos exposure causes three main fatal health problems including the asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Such exposure usually happens when a homeowner or a worker breathes in asbestos fibers that get trapped in the lungs.

Once widely used due to its ability to withstand extreme heat and chemicals and impressive strength, asbestos was a material highly popular for construction, shipbuilding and automotive industries until the 1970s when risks were discovered. There is no risk when the construction or building is in good condition, but exposure would occur when these materials are damaged. Today, workers working in older factories, demolition projects or with antique products have the risk of a higher exposure. However, natural disasters are another huge risk that not many are aware of. Natural disasters such as floods can damage buildings including those constructed with asbestos-containing materials. When this happens, first responders, cleanup crews and neighbors would also be exposed to asbestos fibers in the air.

Floods and Asbestos

When natural disasters such as floods happen, they destruct materials in buildings. Water and pressure may tear apart, break down or wash away buildings and this is when asbestos fibers may be released into the air and the environment. They travel in a cloud of dust or simply through the air. When people breathe in the toxic asbestos fibers after the flood, they would develop fatal health issues. However, due to the microscopic size of the fibers, they are barely visible to the naked eye and remain undetectable unless testing is done to determine their presence. Majority may not even be aware that they have been exposed to these toxic fibers until decades later when they develop health problems such as cancer.

In times of extreme weather and natural disaster, it is necessary to prepare for prevention of exposure to asbestos, especially when floods are common in the Midwest including Nebraska and Iowa. The government has issued specific warnings in order to protect their residents and workers, recommending that all properties damaged by floods are to be examined for the detection of asbestos before any other works – including fire burn, demolishment or renovation are to be done.

Who Stands the Highest Risk of Asbestos Exposure?

People facing the flood will face the highest risks because of the amount of debris present. These people include:

  • Emergency response teams including firefighters
  • Early response volunteers and workers including the FEMA and American Red Cross
  • Law enforcement officials such as the police
  • Navy, Army and Coast Guard military personnel
  • State and Local agency cleanup crews, volunteers and contractors

What Should You Do?

Constant exposure to asbestos can lead to severe health problems over an extended period of time. If you happen to fall into the above-mentioned categories, it is important to get a regular checkup with your medical professional and be mindful to follow safety measures issued. However, early intervention for diseases such as mesothelioma is always important.

Asbestos exposure is fatal and difficult to detect. It is highly important to be aware and alert, and follow the instructions given in order to protect ourselves after a flood. Here at Iris Environmental Laboratories, we provide the most professional asbestos inspection services for early detection of asbestos presence in your property. Contact us today for more information.