Thursday, July 16, 2015

Massive Asbestos Waste Found Just Feet from California High School

Large quantities of asbestos and other hazardous waste products were found at a facility just hundreds of feet away from Mountain View High School, officials announced on Thursday.
In a combined effort, the state Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) are investigating the illegal waste transport facility where between 600 and 800 bags of asbestos and toxic waste were found.
Titan Environmental Inc. is the company being investigated for the waste violation. It may face penalties of $25,000 for each day that the company operated, says the DTSC.
California law prohibits that any hazardous waste facility be located within 500 feet of any school.

Asbestos removal and transport handled part of the job in Irvine CA.

Asbestos exposure has been known to cause diseases like mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and other conditions.
Local officials, parents and students learned about the waste violation today via recorded phone message, according to school officials.

Threat to Students

The dangers of asbestos have been well understood since the 1960s, but he material was used in various products that were manufactured before then. The waste products located at Titan's facility haven't been specifically identified.
"They were not supposed to be storing waste there. They were operating as a hazardous waste transporter and they did not have the proper permits," said Jeanne Garcia of the DTSC, referring to Titan Environmental Inc.
Air samples were taken by AQMD after the discovery was made in February, but asbestos fibers were not found to be present in the samples.
Titan is located just northwest of the high school's football field and running track. Exposure of the hazardous waste could presumptively occur between areas near the school or in the school, if the toxic materials were not properly packaged.
Asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma have been known to take up to 50 years to develop after initial exposure. However, because local environmental officials have cited that 'no asbestos is being released,' the nearby community and students are stated to be at no risk of health issues.
Both agencies now have been tasked with developing a plan to properly dispose of the toxic waste.
"We are still in the throes of an investigation," said Garcia.
Officials from both environmental agencies met with school personnel last week to discuss the issue. Superintendent Nick Salerno stated that no students or staff of Mountain View High School have reported feeling sick.
"We are counting on them [DTSC and AQMD] to do a good job. It sounded like they did."
The investigation stems from an anonymous complaint that the DTSC received on February 8 that mentioned Titan. The tip prompted an unannounced inspection on February 11 of the waste transport facility.

Asbestos in Schools: A Bigger Problem

This incident is not the first report of asbestos in or around schools. Cases of potential asbestos exposure have been discovered at schools across the nation, from the elementary to the university level.
In September 2011, a New York City elementary school had to evacuate and relocate 100 kindergarten students after asbestos was found in the school.
In 2008 a Massachusetts high school had to undergo massive asbestos abatement during a reconstruction project. Officials spent a total of $14 million for a demolition, up from the estimated $7.2 million, after asbestos was found throughout various walls in the school.
More recently and more local to Mountain View High School, California State University Northridge was found to have asbestos in 18 different buildings on the campus in January of this year.
The list goes on.
The history of asbestos use in schools dates back to the widespread use of the material in construction products, which was a prevalent during the mid-20th century. Because of its insulating and heat-resistant properties, the toxic material was desirable for integration into walls, piping, flooring, tiling and countless other products.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Products containing asbestos

While most products manufactured today are free of asbestos, many insulation materials and construction products used before the late 1970s contained asbestos. In homes built before 1980, asbestos was often used in attics, basements and roofs. Fluffy gray or white asbestos functioned as heat and acoustical insulation in and around sewer and water pipes, ducts, electrical wiring, stovepipe rings, linoleum and vinyl flooring, shingles and acoustic tiles. It was placed in areas occupied by artificial fireplaces, furnaces, boilers and incinerators.
Asbestos was also mixed into materials, meaning it cannot be seen by someone looking for it. Asbestos was mixed into siding, cement, plaster, stucco, caulking, joint compounds and textured paints.

Even newer homes may contain asbestos. Some materials with trace amounts of asbestos are still sold and used. The asbestos fibers in these products generally remain tightly bound in the materials. These products include floor tile, mastic adhesive and roofing tar.
Products usually bear labels indicating asbestos content when asbestos exceeds 1 percent of the material. Homeowners should realize that lack of asbestos labeling does not mean asbestos is not present. Only lab analysis or manufacturer certification guarantees that material is asbestos-free.
Homeowners should note that older appliances opened up for repair may release asbestos fibers. Even recently made barbecue mitts, protective aprons and gloves may contain asbestos. These items should be discarded when damaged.

Health risks

Though it was known in the early 1900s that inhaling asbestos particles had led to the deaths of miners, it was not until the 1970s that public health officials began warning of the risk of asbestos exposure in homes and workplaces.
Asbesto-based building materials are not hazardous when they remain intact and undisturbed, but broken during remodeling or repair work, fibers from asbestos can be released into the surrounding air. This is why the focus has been on friable asbestos.  “Friable” means the material crumbles easily and breaks down into small particles that could be inhaled.  Widely used products containing friable asbestos include insulation, acoustical plaster, paper products and spackling compound.
Products made from “non-friable” asbestos are tightly bound and do not easily release particles. Examples of non-friable materials include siding, floor tiles and roofing products.  These can still be a risk, such as hen a non-friable material is sawed or sanded, thereby releasing small particles.
When asbestos fibers are inhaled and reach the lung’s deep air passages, they can cause serious damage. Oral ingestion of asbestos may be implicated in cancers of the larynx, esophagus, oral cavity, colon, stomach and kidney.
According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly everyone is exposed to small amounts of asbestos in the water, air and soil.  People rarely become sick through this type of exposure. Those who develop health problems have generally been exposed to asbestos on a regular basis, usually through their jobs.  Not everyone who is exposed to asbestos will get sick, and those who do may not experience symptoms for decades.
Medical knowledge of the health effects of asbestos has come from long-term studies of people exposed in the workplace. Asbestos workers often develop “asbestosis,” an increase of scar tissue in the lungs causing the heart and lungs to provide inadequate levels of oxygen to the body. This serious disease develops 20 to 30 years after asbestos exposure.
Asbestos workers have also been shown to have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma and cancer, both generally fatal. The two diseases may show up 20 to 50 years following exposure. The younger a person is at the time of asbestos inhalation, the greater the chances of developing mesothelioma.

Asbestos mitigation services

asbestos removal
Asbestos is removed from about 100 feet of water pipes in this basement. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Karen B.)
Asbestos is removed from about 100 feet of water pipes in this basement. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Karen B.)
Because materials containing friable asbestos can be found in so many homes and buildings erected in the mid-20thCentury, an industry of asbestos mitigation professionals has emerged.  These experts are trained to inspect homes for asbestos, take samples and judge the condition of asbestos-containing materials.  They provide homeowners with advice regarding correction and recommend qualified correction contractors. Some companies offer testing as well as assessment and correction. The Environmental Protection Agency advises homeowners to avoid hiring a tester and correction contractor from the same company to avoid conflict of interest.
The federal government, as well as some local and state governments, provides training courses for asbestos professionals. When hiring, homeowners should ask for proof of EPA-approved training or state training. Local and state health departments may be able to provide listings of licensed professionals.
Homeowners should ask for references and get several estimates before hiring an asbestos mitigation company.  Search the Angie’s List category “asbestos removal” to find companies in your city who have received top ratings from past customers.
When an asbestos professional is inspecting your home, make sure he or she collects samples for lab analysis. If asbestos is found, a written description of location, extent of the problem and recommended treatment should be provided.

Fiber containment

When work is being done in an area containing asbestos, the affected area is sealed off from the rest of the home with duct tape and plastic sheeting, and the air conditioning and heating systems are turned off. Home residents and pets are kept from the area until the project is complete.
Professionals use a hand sprayer to wet asbestos material and prevent fibers from becoming airborne during removal. They clean up with wet sponges and mops or high-efficiency vacuums designed to capture small particles.  All asbestos-containing materials are carefully sealed in secure plastic bags.
Once asbestos treatment is complete, air sampling is carried out to determine that fewer than 0.01 fibers per cubic centimeter remain in the air. Higher levels call for additional cleaning and sampling. When sampling demonstrates acceptable air levels, the area is safe for occupancy.

HVAC boot cleared of Asbestos in Los Angeles