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Could asbestos be in the air at South Carolina airport?

Decades ago, many buildings in and around North Carolina were constructed using products that contained asbestos. The use of these materials was quite common because asbestos was relatively cheap and the properties of the material provided effective sound absorption and resistance to fire. Whether asbestos was used in a building's insulation, floor tiles or cement, it was a very popular practice to construct buildings using the fiber.

However, the health risks of exposure to airborne asbestos are quite serious. Workers who manufactured or used these products were at risk for developing an illness caused by breathing in the particles, which could result in serious damage to a person's lungs. And the threat of exposure is far from over, as people can still be exposed to asbestos during the renovation or demolition of buildings that contain asbestos.

Recently, it was reported that asbestos was found in the walls of the Charleston International Airport in South Carolina. In some cases, negligent property owners or companies would try to cover up this discovery or cut corners when the time comes for these materials to be removed and disposed of. However, the airport appears to be taking appropriate measures to protect people from being exposed to asbestos.

According to sources, the airport reported their asbestos findings to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control immediately. Work in the areas where asbestos was found has been put on hold until the agency can properly assess the situation and make recommendations for what action needs to be taken in order to safely remove and dispose of the materials. Until that work can be completed, the areas have been blocked off to keep the public out.

At this point, there have been no reports that any person has been exposed to asbestos. And because the airport has been taking the proper steps to keep people away from the area and minimize the chances that asbestos will be released into the air, hopefully no one will be exposed.

Unfortunately, not all companies are this responsible. In some cases, negligent property owners or employers put the health of their workers or residents in danger by failing to take appropriate measures to safely remove asbestos. In those cases, victims of an asbestos-related illness may be able to take legal action against these irresponsible parties in order to pursue liability and compensation.

Source: Charleston Regional Business Journal, "Airport construction uncovers asbestos," Liz Segrist, Jan. 23, 2014

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