There is no doubt that asbestos exposure can lead to such deadly diseases as mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. That’s why regulatory agencies have put standards in place to protect the public. And it’s why violations of those standards are such serious business.
While most victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases suffered their exposure at work, that’s not the only way people find themselves exposed. A pair of recent news reports highlight how lies, fraud and dishonest contractors may put others at risk.
The lies told by asbestos workers can put others at risk
Recent events in both outstate New York and the Detroit metro area demonstrated how workers might lie in ways that can lead to inadequate asbestos containment:
- In New York, a maintenance supervisor pled guilty to violations of the Clean Air Act. He had lied to the construction workers he hired to work on a state-owned facility, telling them he had tested the whole building for asbestos. The truth was he had only tested four samples, far fewer than he should have, and the workers found dry asbestos fibers as they worked.
- In Detroit, a subcontractor was recently accused of bribery, withholding state money and failing to conduct proper air monitoring. According to the charges, the man did not work with the independent, third-party air quality monitors that Michigan state law requires. As the prosecutors noted, that law exists to ensure that asbestos work doesn’t lead to public exposure.
It’s not certain if either of these cases may result in actual harm to the construction workers or the general public. But it’s clear that, if the charges against the Detroit-area man are correct, both men took shortcuts that put others at risk.
How can you protect yourself and your family from asbestos?
Many homes and other buildings built from the 1930s through the 1970s contain materials made with asbestos. These materials can become a concern as they start to break down and let fibers loose into the air. As a result, homeowners and the owners or managers of public buildings often need to pay to remove these materials. But how can they trust the work will be done safely?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains a list of state asbestos contacts. These people can put you in touch with licensed asbestos testers and contractors. According to the guidelines set forth by the EPA and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, these licensed workers know how to properly test for asbestos and how to remove it safely.