- October 17, 2020
- Steve Heisler
- Senior Injuries
The Dangers of Asbestos
The dangers of asbestos haven’t always been well known. Often, when firefighters and first responders emerge from a disaster scene, asbestos is still on their uniforms and equipment. The firefighters and first responders were not decontaminating their equipment right way. So, they were spreading the contaminants to coworkers and members of their family. Asbestos exposure can happen at the scene, but it can also occur secondhand based on decontamination methods.
Mesothelioma After 9/11
The most significant population of first responders and firefighters affected with mesothelioma are those involved in the 9/11 terror attacks. A dust cloud remained in the air for many days. It has been almost twenty years since the attacks; many of these people are reaching their fifties, which is how long mesothelioma can take to show up. When buildings collapse, glass and wood fibers accumulate as gas and smoke in the air. All of these things will lead to lung cancer and a myriad of long-term diseases.
Other Conditions Caused By Asbestos
Mesothelioma is not the only condition that firefighters experience as a result of asbestos exposure – asbestosis is another condition that comes from asbestos exposure. It’s a long-term scarring in the lungs. As scar tissue builds up, the lung tissue will become stiffer, making it challenging to take a deep breath. If you can’t take deep breaths, then your oxygen levels go down. When oxygen is down, people will experience serious health conditions as a result. For instance, low oxygen levels can harm your neurological system, metabolism and lead to other cancers.
Protecting Firefighters From Asbestos
Your equipment will be the biggest thing to protect a firefighter from asbestos. Thankfully, firefighters now use self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) equipment. This way, a firefighter’s face will be covered from smoke and fire. Plus, they will be able to breathe in clean oxygen. When a firefighter is going through debris, a firefighter needs to minimize the risk of exposure in the area. For instance, going through debris can release a cloud of smoke or degrade structures more efficiently. It’s essential to minimize the amount of dust that is in the air during a search. Lastly, firefighters need to clean their uniforms and tools after an event. That way, it won’t contaminate clean equipment or get transferred to other people in the vicinity. Fire trucks will have decontamination equipment and wash items thoroughly on the scene. Otherwise, the firefighters should seal their equipment and clean it back at the station.
How Firefighters Can Protect Their Families From Toxins
For families, the most critical aspect is not bringing home anything that was present at the fire. If the clothes the firefighter is wearing didn’t get cleaned properly, they would contaminate their cars and homes with asbestos. Asbestos can easily attach to fibers and hairs, making it easy for people in the house to infect themselves unknowingly. Secondary exposure is the cause of almost twenty percent of mesothelioma cases. If you’re decontaminating your gear, it’s lowering your family’s risk of getting exposure to asbestos. After all, there is no safe exposure to asbestos, so secondary exposure is just as dangerous for our health. If you live with an asbestos worker, then make sure they are taking the proper precautions before getting into a family vehicle or home.
Resources For Firefighters
Firefighters should be getting annual examinations as part of their protective services from work. Your doctor should know about your occupation, and they should know when a new exposure has occurred; that way, your doctor will be able to act early after exposure instead of years down the line. If you suspect you have an asbestos issue or are not feeling well, then there are loads of resources to learn more and get the assistance you need.
The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) is the driving force behind nearly every advance in the fire and emergency services. This organization commits to ensuring the health and safety of IAFF members and their families. Plus, they have an action fund called FIREPAC that helps put firefighters first and advocates for their needs.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is an organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property, and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. They have three hundred codes of standards designed to minimize the risk of firefighters in the workplace. The best part? NFPA provides free online access to all three hundred of its codes and standards.
The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) includes the world’s leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials spills, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety policy. They provide a forum for firefighters and first responders to exchange ideas, develop professionally, and reveal news of latest safety features in the industry.
They take tremendous pride in representing injured seniors across the country at the National Injured Senior Law Center. If you or someone you know have complications from asbestos exposure, please contact the National Injured Senior Law Center. Plus, we offer a risk-free strategy session with no obligation, so don’t hesitate to schedule yours today.