It can be difficult to determine initially whether a worker has been exposed to asbestos and whether that exposure was harmful. It can take years before any type of disease or illness can be detected. But this type of exposure can lead to a number of different health issues such as lung cancer and asbestosis.
North Carolina officials have launched an investigation after allegations were made against a local fire department. Firefighters undergo training in all areas of their job, including participating in training burns. However it was before a training burn that the asbestos exposure supposedly occurred.
The firefighters had been preparing for the burn by pulling up the carpet in the home. And while the carpet did not appear to have any asbestos, there was still concern that it might be in other parts of the house. If so, there is a chance that the firefighters were exposed to the hazardous material.
As mentioned above, it can take some time before an asbestos-related disease can be diagnosed. Currently the state's Department of Labor is investigating the situation. When the investigation is complete, it will be clearer whether the firefighters should be concerned about asbestos exposure.
If the firefighters do contract an asbestos-related disease, they may have a workers' compensation claim as well. Any type of injury or illness can leave a victim dealing with not only a debilitating disease but also with growing medical bills. Workers' compensation can take care of these types of expenses.
People who find themselves in a situation similar to these firefighters should speak with someone who understands the implications of an asbestos exposure.
Source: WCTI 12, "State Investigating Local Fire Department," Jon Erickson, Nov. 14, 2011