Detroit Neighborhood Residents Concerned About Possible Asbestos Exposure From Abandoned Dumpster

Posted on June 14, 2016

It has been a challenging year for residents in Flint, Michigan as they fight for clean water after the city’s water lines were found to be tainted with lead. Now, residents in the neighboring city of Detroit may be facing another health crisis after a dumpster loaded with asbestos was left in the neighborhood for several weeks.

According to a May 31 report from Fox 2 News in Detroit, workers from a construction project apparently abandoned a dumpster used during demolition work. Once the house was leveled, the dumpster was left parked along an east side neighborhood street for nearly three weeks. A member of the New Era Detroit initiative, who was filming on location, alerted Fox 2 about the dumpster after seeing the “Asbestos” warning signs on the dumpster.

A resident of the neighborhood told Fox 2 reporters that the contractors alerted them about the work when they “put little things on the door; it didn’t say anything about asbestos, though. It just says close your windows, your doors and keep your pets in. Stuff like that.”

Asbestos was used heavily in construction materials in residences  prior to the 1980s. It can be found in a wide range of building materials, including roofing shingles, and ceiling and floor tiles, and is likely to be present in older homes.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that there is no safe level of exposure, and that three of the major health effects associated with asbestos exposure are lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Exposure leads to a life-long danger of developing these diseases that can take decades to develop.

Congress established the Clean Air Act to protect the U.S. publics’ health from air pollution and environmental hazards. The Act contains specific provisions to address hazardous or toxic air pollutants, such as asbestos, that pose health risks including cancer. Businesses and individuals must adhere to strict federal, state and local guidelines and regulations during construction and demolition. The guidelines include information on disposing of the waste material “as expediently as practicable.”

“The sealed dumpster should have been removed by the contractor more quickly than it was,” said Brian Farkas, the director of special projects for the Detroit Building Authority. “Once we became aware of the issue, the dumpster was removed the next day.”

Close to 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. There is no cure for the cancer.

Photo Credit: Fox 2 News Detroit