Very few public servants experience what firefighters go through, especially with regard to tragic circumstances and exposure to toxic chemicals. There are also other inherent dangers associated with fighting fires that many people do not realize. Among these hazards are exposure to asbestos fiber inhalation.
Malignant Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is associated solely with inhaling the crystal-like fibers, which eventually results in the manifestation of asbestos-related cancer in approximately 20 years. The timeline can differ based on the amount of exposure, but the disease can also begin incubation from one serious contact episode. Firefighters are also exposed to other hazardous chemicals and fumes, but asbestos is not necessarily a common consideration.
Fire departments are well aware of the safety hazards experienced by firefighters. Firemen are generally protected by their self-contained breathing suit when fighting an active fire, but asbestos particles can remain airborne indefinitely in huge fires involving toxic building materials. The World Trade towers are a prime example of this possible exposure, as the first 13 floors of the building contained asbestos installed in construction.
After the use of this material was outlawed and abatement was ordered for public buildings, construction companies changed over to acceptable building materials. The World Trade Towers were still on schedule to be abated. If you have been exposed, to learn more about your rights, contact an attorney experienced with such cases such as one found at The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C.
Firm Protective gear has been generally implemented since the 1973 designation of asbestos as a contaminant, but older building fires still pose a definite risk for firefighters. Current equipment focuses on protection during active fires. Breathing masks are generally efficient at eliminating asbestos exposure as long as the rules of contact are followed.
Asbestos is practically invisible, except in densely clouded instances. However, it takes only one particle to lodge in the lungs to manifest into disease. This means that individuals who wash or decontaminate firefighter gear can be vulnerable to second-hand exposure. Firemen and their spouses are subject to being exposed to fibers when cleaning or handling firefighter gear if fibers are lodged in equipment creases or inside the breathing protection device.
Fire Department Follow Up
Finalizing most fires will involve testing of materials from the structure that may be problematic. Departments can then transfer this information to firefighters for further evaluation from a medical professional, but this does not occur in every fire in an older structure. Actually, this can be too late, as there is no known cure for mesothelioma. This process is primarily performed in buildings constructed prior to 1970, but it can still be a problem because the component was used in many home products, including being a fire retardant in many old firehouses.
Asbestos manufacturing companies have established a trust fund for those who have been damaged physically by contact, but the cases are complicated and require extensive medical and employment data that may be needed from companies that are now dissolved. Social security tax records are used as a replacement.
The best protection for asbestos exposure is modern and proven preventative inhalation equipment that is used in action, along with educating the firemen on the deathly possibilities for exposure to the known toxic ingredient. Any firefighter who thinks they may have been exposed to asbestos should contact a personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling these intricate claims. The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C. is a personal injury law firm experienced with handling mesothelioma claims. They can help the client determine when exposure happened and pinpoint the party or parties who should be held accountable.