The risks of inhaling asbestos fibers are serious, especially if done over an extended period of time. Studies have concluded that asbestos exposure in the home or workplace can lead to serious asbestos-related diseases recognized by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) including asbestosis and mesothelioma, which is a dangerous form of lung cancer that is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos containing materials.
While some people can be exposed without suffering these consequences, others who have only had even short encounters with asbestos exposure may still get these life-threatening conditions. If you suspect that there may be asbestos in your Louisiana home, or in a building where you work, you should get it inspected right away.
Why Would Asbestos Be in My Home or Building?
According to the laboratory director of AMA Analytical Services Inc, asbestos was widely used in all kinds of construction for a long period of history, before the U.S. EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) created asbestos regulations and emission standards for its usage in the United States.
Asbestos is resistant to flame, so it was a particularly good building material in the sense that it was likely to help prevent buildings from burning down. The results of asbestos exposure often do not occur until years later, so it took some time for medical science to connect the health problems to their cause.
Because people did not know about its harmful effects, asbestos was used for insulation and ceiling and floor tiles, as well as for paint and other construction materials. Production of building materials that included asbestos didn’t trail off until the 1980s, and some materials that were less at risk of releasing asbestos fibers into the air continued to be used after that. This means that unless your home or building is fairly new, it is possible that some of the materials used in it could contain asbestos.
Additionally, many families have suffered from what’s known as “secondary” exposure when a family member worked around asbestos. The fibers or dust from work were brought home where other family members were exposed through direct contact or even washing laundry together.
In What Louisiana Cities Can You Be Exposed to Asbestos?
Before it was known to be a dangerous material that causes health problems like lung cancer, asbestos containing materials were used in homes and buildings – including state buildings – throughout Louisiana. This includes structures in the following cities:
- Baton Rouge
- Lake Charles
- New Orleans
- Anywhere along the Gulf Coast
What Should I Do?
Louisiana residents who suspect their buildings contain asbestos or have not yet been properly inspected should schedule an inspection as soon as possible. The state of Louisiana keeps a roster of certified asbestos inspectors who know how to check for the substance. Companies that have this accreditation may be found by contacting the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.
If the inspector verifies that there is asbestos in the building, then there are several things that might happen. If the building is your home or you are the owner, you will be responsible for asbestos removal, which is the process of replacing the components of the building that contain asbestos. Your asbestos worker will put together a management plan for you to have him or her implement. You should be eager to do so since continued exposure only increases your health risks for contracting asbestosis or mesothelioma lung cancer. You’ll need to ensure that you hire an asbestos abatement crew that is properly trained and equipped to handle asbestos removal safely.
If someone else owns the building – for example, if it is an office building for the company you work for – then the owner of the building will be responsible for making the building safe to ensure public health, which includes asbestos removal. They may also be responsible for any health problems that were caused by the asbestos, whether they knew the building had asbestos containing material or not. If they did not know it was there, they likely should have had the building inspected sooner in order to create a safe environment for their employees and ensure OSHA’s requirements for occupational safety were being met. It’s important for negligent companies to be held accountable since substances that contain asbestos fibers represent such a huge health risk to anyone who is exposed, whether you work in an oil refinery, shipyard, or an older office building that was constructed before the 1980s.
If your inspector does not find asbestos, then everyone involved can breathe a sigh of relief. The idea that a building you regularly spend time in might contain asbestos can be nerve-wracking. You don’t want to think that you could have spent every day inhaling a dangerous carcinogen known to cause lung cancer.
A Louisiana state-approved inspection is the only way to be really sure that the building is safe. With the roster available above, getting in touch with one of Louisiana’s many asbestos inspectors and asbestos abatement teams is not hard, and it is definitely better to be safe than sorry. If you are not sure whether your building has been inspected for asbestos, try to find out or err on the side of caution and get a new inspection.
Asbestos exposure in Louisiana has led to tragic results for workers and their families. If you or a loved one has become ill because of asbestos exposure, call the Landry & Swarr Law Firm at 504-299-1214 to speak to one of our Louisiana asbestos attorneys. While we are based in New Orleans, we represent Louisiana residents affected by asbestos exposure who live anywhere in our state.