Building fires may expose firefighters and the public to asbestos
A recent fire in a 100 year old commercial building in Colorado has brought to light the dangers of asbestos exposure that firefighters and emergency personnel may be exposed to when responding to fires. It is well known that firefighters are regularly exposed to extreme heat, fire and smoke, but dangers from asbestos in older building also need to be considered.
Firefighters typically wear air masks connected to air canisters when battling a blaze. These canisters often only last 30 minutes and if additional canisters are not readily available the fire professionals may be forced to work without respiratory protection. Other emergency responders, ranging from police to paramedics, as well as the general public may also be at risk.
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 other building products that contain the asbestos fibers.
The World Trade Center collapse and subsequent exposure to dust, debris and contaminants to hundreds of emergency response professionals, uncovered concerns about long term respiratory health problems for individuals that work or live near disaster sites. 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 suffer from lung problems.
LA Testing, an affiliate of EMSL Analytical and a leading provider of advanced asbestos testing services, has laboratories ready to respond with rapid sample analysis. “Emergency responders can be exposed to asbestos and other contaminants in the course of their duties,” reported Ben Sublasky, National Director of Client Services for LA Testing and EMSL Analytical. “Asbestos related cancers sometimes take decades to appear in exposed individuals so prevention is crucial when a fire or other disaster occurs.”
To learn more about asbestos or other environmental testing services please visit www.LATesting.com, or call (800) 755-1794.
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LA Testing and EMSL Analytical are providers of environmental testing services and products to professionals and the general public. The companies have an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies.