Over the years, asbestos was used in construction materials for insulation and as a fire retardant due to its fiber strength and heat resistance. However, employees in the construction industry and others that used asbestos were exposed to its fibers through inhaling or ingesting airborne particles, resulting in respiratory complications and fatal diseases like lung cancer and mesothelioma.
For this reason, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned most asbestos-containing products in 1989. A court’s decision altered this regulation to only ban new uses of asbestos in products manufactured after 1989.
Nonetheless, some current occupations, such as firefighters, are still highly exposed to asbestos. This guide discusses how this is possible.
When working on buildings constructed before 1989
Many old buildings have asbestos-containing materials, including cement floors, roof shingles, paint, pipe and duct insulation, electric wiring and wall panels, among others. When burning, these materials release asbestos particles into the air, which firefighters may inhale or ingest.
Further, some firefighters may be exposed to asbestos through ash. When moving ash, particles can be released into the air. And some may be exposed to it when doing minor repairs in damaged structures.
At the fire station
Some fire stations are old, which means they may have asbestos-containing materials. When maintenance is poor in such stations, firefighters who spend many hours in them are at high risk of exposure.
Can they avoid asbestos exposure?
Most fire protection companies provide adequate training and information to their workers to avoid exposure. These workers also have protective clothing that keeps them safe.
Firefighters with substandard protective gear or working in poorly maintained stations may be exposed to asbestos. If you or your loved one working in this industry is suffering from asbestos-related complications, learn more about your case to receive the compensation you deserve.