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Asbestos

The NY Islanders Found Asbestos at Home – Can It Happen to You?

The NY Islanders Found Asbestos at Home – Can It Happen to You?

In 2012, the New York Islanders found out they may be moving to a new home the next season because of lingering asbestos problems at the aging Nassau Coliseum – their home for the past 40 years. Does the age of a structure make asbestos more likely? Sure – but it’s the condition that the asbestos is in that can be dangerous.

commercial asbestos testingAsbestos exposure has been linked to the development of serious respiratory diseases and cancers, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. Unfortunately, for nearly 100 years, asbestos was one of the most commonly used materials in construction, shipbuilding and manufacturing, both commercially and residentially.

So, old sports arenas are not the only places to struggle with asbestos issues. Many schools, buildings, and homes also contain asbestos. It is commonly found in insulation, cement, pipes, composites, floor tile, fireproofing material, gaskets, and coatings. If asbestos is left undisturbed, the EPA says that it is generally safe. When it is disturbed during renovation or if it is crumbling from age, dangerous particles are released into the air and can settle into your respiratory system.

What should you do if you think you have asbestos in your home or workplace?

asbestos warningFirst and foremost, do not disturb it. Immediately contact a professional testing company to come in to test for asbestos. It may be that the asbestos in your home is in good shape and does not need removal. In that event, consider having the asbestos encapsulated to insure that the fibers will not become airborne. However, if the asbestos is deteriorating, a testing company can provide you with an asbestos remediation plan to keep you and your family from harm.

Asbestos exposure has been linked to the development of serious respiratory diseases and cancers, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.

Here’s the good news: Asbestos can be very dangerous, but it is easily managed. Take the necessary steps and do a test. You’ll breathe a whole lot easier!

Categories
Asbestos Flooding & Water Damage Lead Mold Soil and Water

Healthy Homes

As we stressed in our last post, testing your home for environmental toxins — lead, mold, radon, asbestos — is vital, especially if your family consists of young children or pregnant women. Hidden dangers are lurking just about everywhere. In addition to testing, you can keep your family healthy and your home safe by following these suggestions from the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

  • Energy-efficient heating equipment lowers your monthly energy bills and, if properly sized and maintained, reduces air pollution. Be sure all ducts are tightly sealed, which experts say can lower your bills by as much as 20 percent. Be wary of any equipment older than 15 years. It might need to be replaced.
  •  Organic fruits and vegetables minimize exposure to pesticides. If you can’t afford to buy everything organic, consider buying organics from following list of the most pesticide-saturated fruits and veggies, known as the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen”: apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, imported nectarines, imported grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, domestic blueberries, lettuce, and kale/collard greens. And whether it’s organic or conventional, wash all produce well before eating to reduce risk of infection.
  • Find a new home for your old electronics – computers, television, cell phones, e-readers, etc. E-cycling reduces waste and helps manage toxic chemicals. Check your state’s environmental agency for information on where to recycle old equipment.
  • Many eat fish for health reasons, but beware: Big fish, such as shark and swordfish, often contain contaminants, including metals, industrial chemicals and pesticides. Safer options include tilapia, mussels, clams and shrimp.
  • Phthalates and bisphenol-A (BPA) are potentially harmful chemicals in plastics that can leak out and into our children’s bodies, negatively impacting brain development and reproduction. Choose plastics No. 1, 2, 4, and 5 for drinkware and containers. In addition, never heat plastic, especially in the microwave; wash plastic in the dishwasher; or pour warm liquids into plastic containers.
  • Water often contains lead, especially if plumbing is older than 10 years old. Test your pipes for lead. Also, run your water for a few minutes every morning or whenever it hasn’t been used for a while, and use cold water for cooking.
  • Smoking is the most common cause of indoor air pollution. Plus, secondhand smoke can cause asthma attacks, respiratory problems, and possibly cancer. So if you must smoke – and we hope you’ll consider stopping – smoke outside away from doors, windows, and vents.

We live in a world laden with pollutants, but these steps can help you keep your home pollutant-free.

 

Categories
Asbestos Lead

9/11’s toxic dust

9/11’s toxic dust

Sept. 11, 2001 has been memorialized by unforgettable images, among which were the buildings collapsing in a blanket of dust and smoke, and people rushing from the scene, covered in a white dust that we now know was toxic.

The numbers of Ground Zero workers with serious medical issues keep growing. Many are claiming the toxic dust they inhaled have caused a myriad of health issues, including cancer, asthma, persistent coughs (known among those afflicted as WTC cough), and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

At the time, workers and volunteers were assured by Christie Whitman, then administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, that the air was safe to breathe. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey asked Paul Lioy, director of exposure science at Rutgers University and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, to collect and test samples of the dust. It turned out that the dust was a toxic cocktail of asbestos; metallic particles including lead; cement; gypsum; calcium carbonate; and glass fibers. The dust pH was highly alkaline and extremely caustic, and according to experts, caused severe medical problems for first responders and those who spent months cleaning the site.

This weekend, as we all remember and pay homage to those who lost their lives, it is also a good time to be reminded to pay more attention to the air we breathe daily. Lead dust – present in many pre-1978 built homes (the year lead paint was banned) – is poisonous to everyone, but especially children, pregnant women and pets. The list of health problems it causes is long and troublesome, including brain damage, loss of IQ, learning disability, hearing loss, nervous system and kidney damage.

Asbestos is a human carcinogen, and is linked to lung cancer, laryngeal cancers and malignant mesothelioma. Since these cancers develop 10 to 30 years after exposure, many of the 9/11 workers might be still symptom free.

If you suspect an environmental hazard might be lurking in your home, your first stop should be to have your home tested by certified inspectors. Once testing is complete and a remediation plan established, hire only contractors who are certified to remove the specific hazard.

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Asbestos

Things you should know about asbestos

Things you should know about asbestos

The 411 on Asbestos

Many people worry about asbestos -especially when purchasing a new home. But what do you really know about asbestos? The mere presence of asbestos is not usually a problem. Over time, however, asbestos may become damaged. When it does, it can release dangerous asbestos fibers into the air you breathe. The removal of asbestos, if not done correctly, can also pose a health threat. Here are some answers to our most frequently asked questions.

Q. What is asbestos?

A. Asbestos is a very strong mineral fiber that was once added to many different products to strengthen them. It was also used to provide heat insulation and fire resistance. There are several types of asbestos fibers.

Q. Where is asbestos found?

A. Asbestos can be found in roofing materials, siding shingles, insulation (homes built between 1930 – 1950), textured paint (pre-1977), patching compounds (pre-1977), walls and floors around wood-burning stoves, vinyl floor tiles and adhesives, insulation for hot water and steam pipes in older homes, and oil and coal furnaces.

Q. How Can Asbestos affect my health?

A. Exposure to asbestos, especially airborne asbestos fibers, increases your risk of developing lung disease. Disease symptoms may take several years to develop following exposure. Continued exposure can increase the amount of fibers that remain in the lung. Fibers embedded in lung tissue over time may cause serious lung diseases including asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma.

Q. I suspect there is asbestos in my home. What should I do?

A. First and foremost, do not disturb the asbestos. It is generally not harmful until it is disturbed and fibers are released into the air. Next, have a professional testing company come in to test for asbestos. It may be that the asbestos in your home is in good shape and does not need removal. If not, they can provide an asbestos remediation plan for you so that you and your family are safe.

Q. I am planning on renovating my home and I know there is asbestos there. Are there any precautions I can take?

A. Once you have tested for asbestos and confirmed that it will be a problem, have any removal and repairs done by certified professionals who are specially trained in handling asbestos.

Q. We are going to be doing demolition on our home and know we only have asbestos in one place that won’t be touched asbestos. Is it safe to go ahead with the demolition without having the house tested for asbestos?

A. A demolition could expose an asbestos problem you weren’t aware of. Also, look for signs of wear and tear in areas you know contain asbestos. But whatever you do, don’t touch it. Consider having the asbestos encapsulated to insure that the fibers will not become airborne.

Asbestos can be very dangerous, but is easily managed. Take the necessary steps to make sure you and your family is not harmed by asbestos.