New Jersey Soil May Be Contaminated with Asbestos after Sandy

Asbestos exposure attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm warn residents of the East Coast that soils may be contaminated with an array of toxins from the massive hurricane this spring. Experts assert that soil tests show high levels of hazardous materials, such as asbestos, lead, and arsenic.

This type of environmental contamination after natural disasters is not uncommon – the recent tornadoes sweeping through Oklahoma, for example, are posing significant risks to residents living in the plains. While wind and water damage compromises homes, schools, and commercial buildings, the risk of asbestos being damaged in those buildings and spreading to surrounding areas is heightened.

An array of construction materials contain asbestos, especially if they were implemented before 1979, the year asbestos was officially recognized by the American government as a carcinogen. Among the materials that frequently used asbestos include roofing and tiling, piping, insulation, and fire-proof materials. In fact, roofing accounts for more than 40% of all asbestos consumption in the country.

According to the EPA, there are about 35 million homes, schools and business in the United States that still contain significant amounts of asbestos – many of these are in the Northeast, where many buildings are older and therefore more likely to contain hazardous materials.

When citizens are finally able to return to their homes and businesses after a natural disaster, the EPA advises that they take the following protections, which can be found here. The agency also notes that individuals should be extremely cautious when disturbing building materials left behind. If asbestos is disturbed from its original form (if it is considered “friable,” meaning the fibers can become airborne and inhaled), it poses immense risk to whoever can breathe it in.

Asbestos is such a hot-button topic throughout the world because of its insidious properties. Once inhaled, the fibers lodge themselves in the lungs, where they remain for the rest of your life. Some people may never experience symptoms of this lodgment; others will die from it. About 3,000 Americans die every year from the cancer that is almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure: mesothelioma.

News 12 New Jersey recently published a story highlighting residents’ concerns about the toxic waste now contaminating their land. Hurricane Sandy brought with her not only crippling winds and rain, but flooding as well. In those flood waters there was a long list of chemicals that are now settling into the New Jersey landscape, everything from oil to sewage to asbestos. The water eventually receded, but the waste remained, and now New Jersey residents are concerned about their children who play in the grass, and adults who love to garden.

One woman, Regina Coyle, is worried the lead and asbestos will enter the environment’s food chain. RTK, an environmental testing company, has been testing the ground around New Jersey and recently agreed to test Coyle’s yard soil so she could have peace of mind.

According to the nonprofit environmental group Climate Central, Sandy spread more than 5 billion gallons of sewage in New Jersey (enough to fill more than 250,000 pools). RTK states that its soil test found Sandy to cause levels of some toxic materials to be as high as triple what regulations say would be acceptable.

Health officials recommend that homeowners who plant herbs or vegetables to use raised containers and store-bought soil to protect themselves. Soil contamination, of course, can vary widely between counties.

Asbestos exposure attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm are currently investigating cases involving industrial, occupational, or environmental asbestos exposure. If you or a loved one was diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness, such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer, you have important legal rights, and may be entitled to compensation. Contact a skilled attorney as soon as possible for a free legal consultation.

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