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Mesothelioma News Asbestos Delays Return Home for Apartment Dwellers after Weekend Blaze

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

When fire hit a Pasadena, California apartment complex last weekend, many of the residents thought the damage to their units was minimal and that perhaps they’d be back in their homes before too long.

But city officials “red-tagged” several of the apartments earlier this week when they found friable, damaged asbestos materials inside. Now, the families that lived in those units have been told it’ll be several weeks rather than several days until they can return so as to avoid issues with asbestos exposure.

An article in the Pasadena Star-News profiles the plight of the apartment dwellers, who lived in a small complex on the city’s Worcester Ave. The story reports that some apartments were indeed destroyed and will take months to repair, but others that are still relatively intact will require asbestos abatement and renovation using safer materials before residents can return.

“The property owners received an asbestos report back, which was positive,” explained Pasadena Fire Department spokesperson, Lisa Derderian. There was no mention as to what kinds of asbestos products were found inside, but the material is often found in insulation as well as floor and ceiling tiles. Buildings constructed prior to the late 1970s often include asbestos-containing materials. Though it was known for decades that asbestos could cause cancers such as mesothelioma, guidelines about its use weren’t issued until nearly 1980.

Derderian said most of the displaced apartment dwellers are now living in a shelter, but it is the responsibility of the building owner to find housing for those whose units are uninhabitable. She noted that the fire was most likely caused when diapers stored too close to a space heater ignited.

Firefighters also risk asbestos exposure when fighting fires such as the one that destroyed these Pasadena apartments. That’s why its essential that proper equipment be worn when battling a blaze in an older building that might contain the toxic material.