Even though asbestos has not been used as a building material for homes in a few decades, the fact remains that many homes – especially those built before 1980 – may contain asbestos and could become a health hazard if those fibers become disturbed in any way. Insulation, floor tiles, roofing, and siding were all common products in a household that contain asbestos. Over time, tears, abrasions, water damage, and general wear and tear can expose harmful asbestos fibers; however, asbestos fibers can also be exposed during a demolition or renovation project, and place entire communities at risk for exposure.
A 100-year-old house with a crumbling foundation and holes large enough to crawl through is causing major concern for residents and county officials in Point Breeze, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A $20,000 Allegheny county emergency grant has been applied for to tear down this apartment house, which has collapsed twice, and forced the family next door to relocate. The owner of this home, who purchased the apartment house in February 2017, has been given until the end of this week to come forward with either a plan to repair the dilapidated structure or have it torn down before county officials step in.
However, before demolition can begin, the borough must pay to have the property and structure inspected for asbestos, and if asbestos is found, an asbestos abatement professional must be contacted.
In the past, construction workers were constantly working with asbestos through the installation of ceiling tiles, drywall, flooring, insulation, and roofing. Today, asbestos exposure is still very much relevant for those working in the construction industry. Demolition workers have the highest risk of exposure as asbestos dust becomes airborne when the buildings are being torn down. The chance this home in Point Breeze has of containing asbestos is high because of the time period in which the home was built. While asbestos use increased dramatically with the events of WWII, asbestos use was common in 1918, so much so that suspicions about its safety were raised even then – it was at this time that insurance companies began refusing to sell insurance to asbestos workers.
Pittsburgh used to be known for its great steel industry, but unfortunately the industry has caused asbestos-related deaths in Allegheny County to surpass the national average. Pennsylvania is one of six states with asbestos-related death rates that are 50 to 100 percent above the national average. From 1999 to 2013, an estimated 14,216 people died as a result of their exposure. Asbestos exposure can lead to severe and life-threatening illnesses such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Hard working men and women were unaware of the dangers of asbestos, but many employers and asbestos manufacturers knew about the dangers and chose to say nothing; placing profits above workers’ health. If you are suffering from an illness caused by asbestos exposure, you need to speak to an asbestos attorney right away. You may be entitled to compensation for your suffering.
Chuck Biedka, “Brackenridge Seeks Allegheny County Grant to Raze Century-Old House,” Valley News Dispatch – TribLive (March 3, 2018). [Link]