In the aftermath of an early springtime torrent of damaging storms, Kentucky officials are warning homeowners, business owners, contractors, and others involved in the clean-up of storm debris to be on the lookout for dangerous asbestos.
A story reported on LEX-18 News in Lexington, Kentucky cautioned local residents that many of the damaged or destroyed buildings left behind debris that contains asbestos. This is largely due to the age of many of the structures that were damaged, particularly buildings that were constructed prior to about 1980, when asbestos use was finally halted.
The Kentucky Department for Public Health and the Division of Air Quality have made recommendations for handling asbestos and avoiding exposure to airborne fibers, which can cause the cancer known as mesothelioma. The agencies recommend that debris be kept wet so that fibers are not released and those involved in clean-up have been advised never to burn the debris, which is not only unsafe but also illegal. They’ve also issued a reminder to avoid any dust blowing from clean-up sites, even for those not directly involved in clean-up. It is recommended that dust masks be worn during removal of any debris, though the agencies note that traditional masks may not be effective in keeping very tiny fibers – like asbestos – from being inhaled.
Debris must also be packaged properly for disposal, warn the agencies, and any asbestos-containing waste will need to be taken to an approved toxic waste landfill. The Division for Air Quality has made available a detailed “Storm Debris Fact Sheet” to anyone interested in learning more about the dangers they face during clean-up, and to encourage local citizens to avoid risky behavior during this difficult time when so many have lost homes, businesses, and – in some cases – loved ones.