Safety First for NC Town When it Comes to Asbestos-Tainted Demolition Project

Posted on July 18, 2017

Abandoned buildings dot the landscape of many cities and towns across the country, but before officials begin a restoration project they must first assess whether asbestos is present in the structures. One North Carolina town just discovered asbestos in homes slated for demolition, and now, officials must first manage its removal before moving forward with the demolition project.

According to a July 7 article in the Statesville Record & Landmark, eight of 12 buildings earmarked for demolition were found to contain asbestos. While work can begin on the four houses not containing asbestos, the eight homes will remain standing until certified contractors can be secured.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen and is proven to cause pleural mesothelioma, a serious cancer resulting from breathing in the asbestos fibers that then become lodged in the thin membrane that lines and encases the lungs. Often called “asbestos cancer,” mesothelioma is highly aggressive and is resistant to standard cancer treatments.

In order to keep the public and workers safe, specific, sometimes costly, asbestos abatement procedures must be followed. The work necessary to manage asbestos removal requires the expertise of certified asbestos contractors. Statesville officials have requested asbestos abatement proposals and anticipate it may take until November for the contracts to be put in place  and the tainted buildings can be removed.

In buildings built prior to 1980, asbestos was used in a wide range of the materials, including roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, paper products, and asbestos cement products. Although no longer used in construction, many older homes typically contain some asbestos-containing materials. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, asbestos that is in good condition, is not friable, and is left undisturbed is unlikely to present a health risk. However, risk of asbestos-related diseases becomes an issue when the asbestos is damaged or disturbed, such as during renovation and demolition work.

The EPA has declared that there is no safe level of exposure. It can take decades after exposure to asbestos for symptoms of mesothelioma to develop, leaving anyone exposed at a life-long risk of developing the disease. Approximately 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.

Photo Credit: Statesville Record & Landmark