Do Natural Disasters Increase the Risk of Mesothelioma?

Although it’s now commonly known that exposure to asbestos can lead to mesothelioma, a deadly and incurable form of cancer, asbestos can still be found in many older homes and buildings. In fact, as we’ve discussed on this blog before, asbestos hasn’t been totally banned. While the use of asbestos is heavily regulated, there are some circumstances where people might be inadvertently exposed to the dangerous mineral. One such circumstance is a natural disaster. Natural disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes, are responsible for a great deal of structural damage. When this structural damage occurs, there is a potential for asbestos fibers to be released into the air. In this blog, we’ll discuss the relationship between asbestos and natural disasters, as well as the precautions that should be taken in the event of a natural disaster.

Natural Disasters and Asbestos

When a natural disaster occurs, everything is thrown into chaos. People are primarily focused on getting themselves and their loved ones to safety. Once the initial danger has passed, and people start to rebuild their lives, there’s often a sense of urgency as people try to get back to normal as quickly as possible. Additionally, access to resources may be stretched thin, making qualified professionals trained to handle asbestos harder to find. It’s important, despite the urgency, that all asbestos-related safety regulations be observed after a natural disaster.

Asbestos Exposure

Even when all the proper regulations are followed, there are a lot of opportunities for accidental asbestos exposure after a natural disaster. It can be difficult to determine how much, if any, asbestos materials have been damaged. If a home or building was made prior to 1980, it’s best to assume that asbestos is present. Of course, in the immediate aftermath of a major storm or earthquake, the age of a building may not be at the top of the list of priorities. Additionally, if the damage to a home or building is severe, it can be difficult identify specific materials. If you’ve been involved in such a disaster and you’re unsure of the age of the building in question, or if you know it was constructed before 1980, be sure to contact a trained asbestos professional to avoid exposing yourself or anyone else to the substance. Don’t disturb any materials until such a professional is present.

Additional Precautions

After a natural disaster, when dealing with any damaged or destroyed homes or buildings, it’s always a good idea to take every available precaution. The best place to start is to use protective gear, including clothing that fully covers, with gloves, goggles, and most importantly a respirator. Make sure to look for a tightly-fitted respirator that’s been approved to filter out danger substances. Dust masks are not sufficient protection. In addition to wearing protective gear, it’s a good practice to wet any materials being removed to prevent asbestos fibers from becoming airborne. Keep all materials being removed in a sealed plastic bag to prevent any exposure down the line. Finally, don’t forget that the dangerous materials can stick to your clothing. Many have been exposed to asbestos despite taking every precaution because they brought asbestos fibers into their home on their clothes. Change your clothing quickly, and discard any clothing which might have been contaminated with dangerous materials.

Contact an Experienced Mesothelioma Attorney

If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos and has developed mesothelioma, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced mesothelioma attorney right away. At Nelson MacNeil Rayfield, we have over 70 collective years of legal and trial experience and we can answer any question you may have in a free consultation. 


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