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First Responders and Mesothelioma

Firefighters, police, and EMTs are routinely called to help after catastrophic incidents that damage or destroy buildings. Since many existing buildings were constructed with asbestos-containing materials and equipment, rescue workers often become exposed to hazards that extend beyond the actual fire. By being in proximity to asbestos-containing materials, firefighters are frequently at risk for asbestos diseases like mesothelioma.

How First Responders Are Exposed to Asbestos

Asbestos dust exposure can occur when firefighters enter a building with asbestos-containing equipment and material.  As these materials are disturbed, toxic particles float into the air. The inhalation of these fibers can lead to a variety of serious health problems. Mesothelioma is one of the respiratory diseases that may occur under these circumstances.  Older building materials including insulation, floor tiles, sheet rock, joint compounds, and ceiling tiles contained asbestos.

Are 9/11 Workers Still At Risk of Exposure to Asbestos?

Yes.  Despite the fact that the health risks of asbestos exposure are well known, rescue workers are still coming into contact with this material. Throughout the country, buildings that were erected between the 1930s and the 1990s are still standing. Any time a fire or other type of disaster happens within these structures, the release of asbestos dust can drastically affect the health of emergency personnel.

Exposure to Asbestos from Rescue Equipment and Stations

Firefighters and other first responders may come in contact with asbestos dust even when they are not at the scene of a rescue effort. Older fire and police stations, built before the 1990s, may contain asbestos building materials. Firefighters can be exposed to asbestos materials from fire engines and fire pumps.  Some older fire uniforms contained asbestos.  Boilers, pumps, valves, and HVAC and electrical equipment also had asbestos parts.

Why Are 9/11 Workers Still At Risk of Mesothelioma?

Rescue workers who have come in contact with asbestos dust may not experience mesothelioma symptoms for 15 years or more. So they might not be aware of the damage to their health. Signs of this serious disease can include chest pains, shortness of breath and wheezing years after they were exposed.