Hurricane Sandy stirs up asbestos across the East coast

People across the country have been affected by the recent devastation that Hurricane Sandy caused. Besides the power outages and flooding that is still affecting residents immediately, some people may be facing consequences of the hurricane decades from now. According to recent reports, Hurricane Sandy has swept up and destroyed many buildings containing asbestos, which may put residents in danger of becoming exposed to the toxic substance.

With the heavy winds and flooding that have crippled families for the past week, homes and other buildings have been compromised. As we have discussed on this blog numerous times, many older structures built before the 1980s contained asbestos in the insulation, plumbing, roofing or piping. When these buildings get demolished or damaged, these fibers can become airborne and are easily inhaled by unsuspecting people.

Sources indicate that the use of asbestos in certain products actually increased between 2010 and 2011. In total, 35 million buildings in the United States have asbestos in the insulation, and over 40 percent of asbestos used during that same time frame was put into roofing products. When the hurricane swept through the East coast, many of these roofs and buildings were torn off and demolished.

Although experts suggest that no exposure to asbestos is safe, when asbestos is undisturbed or wet, the risk of exposure is relatively small. However, taking the risk of being exposed by carelessly handling debris and potentially toxic materials is simply not worth it. Cancers that are caused by asbestos are often devastating and aggressive. They can also lie dormant in a person’s system for decades before symptoms begin to show.

This is why it is recommended that people stay away from the debris. They may also want to avoid activities like sweeping or vacuuming up potentially harmful materials so that any asbestos remains undisturbed until a specially trained expert in asbestos removal can be consulted.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Asbestos May Post Health Hazards In Hurricane Sandy’s Wake,” Lynne Peeples, Nov. 3, 2012

  • Being exposed to asbestos can have serious and fatal consequences. Victims who have been or may have been recklessly exposed to the substance may want to visit our page on asbestos litigation in North Carolina.