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Apr 01, 2014

 

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Lisa Peterson
Permitting and Compliance
406-444-2929

 

DEQ issues reminders about asbestos safety for homeowners, small businesses

 

Helena – Do you know if you, your family or your employees have been exposed to asbestos? The first week in April is National Asbestos Awareness Week and a good time to learn about the number one cause of occupational cancer in the US.

Asbestos occurs naturally in some rocks and in soil. It's made up of fibers that are too small to see. Prior to 1975, asbestos was used in thousands of products such as construction materials, insulation, ceiling and floor tiles, and even toasters and hair dryers. Asbestos is still used in some roofing products, sheetrock, carpet backing, and brakes.

"Just a few simple steps can go a long ways toward keep your family and businesses safe," said Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Director Tracy Stone-Manning. "We encourage Montanans to get in touch with DEQ to learn more about how they can prevent dangerous asbestos contamination."

Asbestos becomes dangerous when it is disturbed. Disturbance is most likely to happen when buildings are demolished or remodeled. This activity releases the microscopic asbestos fibers into the air where they can be inhaled. Inhaling these fibers leads to serious asbestos-related diseases such as lung cancer; mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer found in the lining of the lungs, chest, abdomen and heart; and asbestosis, a serious progressive, long-term, non-cancer disease of the lungs.

The people most at risk of exposure are construction, insulation, and demolition workers, pipefitters, and others who might disturb asbestos found in old buildings or equipment as part of their work. Emergency workers and firefighters also face the risk of exposure.

But homeowners working around their homes can also be at risk. The DEQ offers these guidelines to homeowners:

- Don’t remove or damage asbestos material.
- Consult asbestos professionals or the EPA for testing and removal information.
- Don’t dust, sweep, or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos.
- Don’t saw, sand, scrape, or drill holes in asbestos materials.
- Don’t use abrasive pads or brushes on power strippers to strip wax from asbestos flooring. Never use a power stripper on a dry floor.
- Don’t sand or try to level asbestos flooring. If asbestos flooring needs replacing, install new floor covering over it, if possible.
- Don’t track material that could contain asbestos through the house, call an asbestos professionals or the EPA for testing and removal information.

If you think you have been exposed to asbestos, the DEQ encourages you to speak to your health care professional.

You can find much more information about asbestos, how to deal with it, and its risk at the DEQ website: www.deq.mt.gov/Asbestos or by calling the DEQ Asbestos Program at 406-444-2960.

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