As many prepare to head back indoors to work and school, the last thing on their mind is exposure to carcinogens like asbestos. In the United States, asbestos was used for decades in commercial buildings. If asbestos is disturbed, the fibers become airborne resulting in inhalation or ingestion which can result in an asbestos-related illness like mesothelioma.
Asbestos Exposure in Nursing Facility
Residents and staff at a residential nursing home, Bentonview Park Health and Rehabilitation in Monett, Missouri are facing uncertainty as they were exposed to asbestos. Employers failed to provide a safe, asbestos-free working and living environment.
A U.S. Department of Health’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspection revealed that the nursing home employers failed to test for asbestos and “did not erect protective barriers to contain residue, and failed to use respiratory and personal protective equipment to prevent exposure.” OSHA inspectors also found that employers had staff remove about 10,000 square feet of floor tiles that contained asbestos without containing the asbestos or completing an asbestos assessment.
OSHA cited the nursing home for not implementing a respiratory protection program, exposing workers to asbestos hazards, and failing to notify employees of the presence of asbestos.
Asbestos Exposure in Schools
After a long absence from classrooms due to COVID-19, new and veteran teachers look forward to returning to their buildings to start the new school year. However, many of those older schools are barely inhabitable due to the presence of asbestos. In the City of Brotherly Love, a union is taking a stand after the tragic diagnosis of one of their teachers.
The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers is demanding that the administration invest $100 million to remove asbestos in buildings throughout the city. Tragically, for one veteran educator, the abatement efforts may be too little and too late after being diagnosed with mesothelioma caused by exposure to the toxic compound.
The union is alleging the presence of asbestos in approximately 150 schools throughout the district with many teachers observing and disturbed asbestos. They also announced a pending partnership with professionals in the environmental science and medical industries to identify and investigate possible cancer clusters.
The stakes are high. The dangers transcend teachers, administrators, and support staff. Students who attend school anywhere in Philadelphia run the risk of exposure as well.