Between October 30th and November 5th, 60 bags of asbestos waste were illegally dumped in two Toledo, Ohio working-class neighborhoods, presumably by the same person or group of people. Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spokesman Dina Pierce says the volume of asbestos recovered leads investigators to believe that the waste came from a large building or complex.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was used in construction throughout the 19th and 20th centuries because of its strength and fire resistant properties. However, asbestos is also toxic, and it’s use was banned in the United States in the late 1980’s because it is known to cause such fatal diseases as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the protective lining of the body’s major organs and cavities.
The Ohio EPA is working with area law enforcement in hopes of making an arrest. Once a culprit has been found, criminal charges could be filed. “We could be looking at a monetary penalty to a criminal penalty involving jail time. It’s definitely a very serious environmental violation,” explained Pierce.
Asbestos is both an environmental and health hazard. The carcinogenic mineral must be properly disposed of because it releases toxic fibers that are easily inhaled. These fibers lodge in the lungs and cause damage over decades that eventually leads to the development of pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs, or peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the abdomen.
Anyone with information regarding this case should call Rick Hassinger of Ohio EPA’s special investigations unit at 419-352-8461 or 800-686-6930.