If you live in California, you might have heard about the devastating fires that have swept through the northern part of the state. The Butte and Valley fires have recently burned over 70,000 acres of land, as well as the homes and businesses of local residents. Thousands of firefighters from across the country have joined to help combat the fires and save the structures from the flames.
During this time, we keep the firefighters in our thoughts. They are not only risking their lives against fire, but deadly asbestos can become a problem as well.
Homes and businesses built before 1990 are likely to contain asbestos-containing materials, and once a fire breaks out, the deadly fibers can be released into the air. Firefighters risk breathing in these fibers while the structures are burning, and during debris clean up.
Wearing the proper gear while on duty is the key to eliminating the possibility of exposure. Many firefighters take off their "self-contained breathing apparatus" after a fire is under control, without realizing that toxic substances may still be in the air around them. Breathing in a toxic substance, like asbestos fibers, can lead to rare and debilitating diseases, like mesothelioma.
If you are a firefighter battling the Butte and Valley fires, do not forget that asbestos exposure is a serious threat during house fires.