EMSL Analytical, Inc.

Firefighters may be exposed to asbestos battling fires

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Courtesy of EMSL Analytical, Inc.

EMSL Analytical can quickly test to determine the presence of asbestos in old buildings that catch fire and release the dangerous fibers into the air. Firefighters are regularly exposed to the dangers of extreme heat, fire and smoke, but new concerns over asbestos exposure have recently come to light. Although firefighters typically wear air masks connected to air canisters when battling a blaze they often only last 30 minutes. If additional canisters are not readily available the fire professionals may be forced to work without respiratory protection.

Ever since the World Trade Center collapse and exposure of dust, debris and contaminants to hundreds of emergency response professionals, concerns over long term respiratory health problems have received increased attention. In a 2006 study by Mount Sinai Medical Center it was determined that almost 70% of emergency response workers who responded to the World Trade Center collapse still suffered lung problems.

During a fire or building collapse many dangerous chemicals and materials can be released into the air, including asbestos. Older buildings may be filled with asbestos insulation, floor tiles and numerous other places where asbestos was commonly used in older construction.

EMSL Analytical, one of the nation’s largest asbestos testing laboratories, has almost three decades of asbestos testing experience. “Firefighters and emergency response professionals exposed to asbestos and other contaminants should be aware of the health risks,” reported Joe Frasca, Executive Vice President for EMSL Analytical. “The emergence of asbestos related cancers sometimes take 10 to 15 years or longer to manifest themselves in exposed individuals,” Frasca continued.

EMSL’s network of nearly 40 laboratories in the United States and Canada have been providing quality analytical services since 1981.

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