Asbestos: Still a Concern
Many think that the dangers of asbestos have abated with greater awareness and changes in building materials. However, some concerning recent headlines should remind us that asbestos remains a real and prevalent environmental danger, particularly in the construction industry. According to the site Asbestos Nation, asbestos causes approximately 15,000 deaths in the United States each year from the deadly lung cancer mesothelioma and asbestosis, a non-cancerous respiratory disease attributed solely to asbestos exposure.
Asbestos is a difficult substance to reduce exposure to. It is made of tiny fibers that can disperse into the air once disturbed and breathed in. Since asbestos was a common building material in years past, it can be found in many older buildings, making demolition and renovation of structures difficult and dangerous.
Asbestos is still a legal building material, utilized in cement, flooring, roofing, and millboard. The fact that it is still legal may come as a surprise, given that it is a proven carcinogen. It is regulated, but despite repeated efforts in Congress to ban asbestos, powerful special interests lobbyists have prevented the prohibition of the substance. Where are some of the biggest areas of concern?
One particular area of concern is the nation’s schools. In 1984, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), conducted a survey and concluded that over 35,000 schools exposed students and staff to asbestos. Headlines about exposure in schools still pop up in the news. And elementary school teachers are twice as likely to die from mesothelioma as the general population. Some very recent headlines found asbestos in children’s crayons and toy kits. It is apparent that asbestos will continue to pose a danger – but not only in the places you might expect. Over a series of posts in the coming months, we will highlight some of the environmental and practical issues pertaining to construction industry.
At CRG we have the privilege of representing New England’s contractors. Our diverse portfolio includes the Environmental and Demolition trades, specifically specializing in historic renovations and restorations. Contact us today for more information.