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Unsafe asbestos removal endangered low-income housing residents

Recently, a contractor in Alexandria, VA pled guilty to a violation of the Toxic Substances Control Act. The violation stemmed from asbestos removal in a low-income housing complex. Instead of hiring the proper people to remove asbestos around the windows the right way, which would have been more expensive and time-consuming, he just had his workers take the windows out intact. His thought was that this would stop them from disturbing the asbestos that was present in the windows' surroundings and sealing material, so there would not be any risk of harm. At least that was what he told the court, according to Post.

What did asbestos testing show?

Unfortunately for the contractor, who performed the job in 2014 at Hunting Point towers, his way of removing the windows and their surrounding asbestos was not safe. Residents and others complained about the risk they were being forced to take on due to the contractor's choices. When inspectors and regulators came to take a look at the work being done, they saw that there were problems with removal. Testing showed that the amount of asbestos in the air was also elevated, which indicated that asbestos was being disturbed during the window removal and not properly contained.

Why is asbestos such a problem?

The asbestos removal being mishandled in a low-income housing complex in Alexandria is not a unique situation. There are a lot of people who remove asbestos when they are unsure how to do it safely. That exposes them and others to tiny asbestos fibers in the air, which can be inhaled and lodge in the lungs. Asbestos removal needs to be done safely by professionals. Otherwise, the long-term effects of asbestos can include mesothelioma, which is a type of lung cancer that is very often deadly. 

Hiring trained professionals is a must

Anytime there is a chance of asbestos, the best thing to do is call in a professional. Asbestos testing can be performed, and if the substance is found a plan can be made for removing it safely. Exposing people to asbestos can harm their long-term health, and when asbestos is not removed the right way the fibers can linger for a long time. That means people who come into the building months or even years later can still be at risk of exposure, which is something that was noted in the argument against the contractor's choice of asbestos removal methods.

When asbestos is present, a DIY approach is a bad idea. The chances of asbestos exposure are significant. Such exposure is unnecessary, dangerous and harmful to residents, workers and the public.

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