In the long list of occupations that put people at risk for malignant mesothelioma, you’d be hard pressed to find public transit bus employee. Yet there are thousands of New York transit employees who recently learned that they were subjected to decades of asbestos exposure at New York MTA’s East New York bus depot in Brooklyn. Making matters worse, there dozens of high school students who were exposed to the toxic material at the same time.
Mesothelioma Fears Stem from Asbestos-Contaminated Cloth Covering Air Vents
Malignant pleural mesothelioma forms in the lining of the lungs when asbestos fibers are inhaled, and that’s what makes the asbestos contamination at the Brooklyn bus depot so frightening: the asbestos that was discovered has been in place for decades, woven into a cloth that lines the air vents that pump air into the depot. Making matters worse are the suspicions that transit officials have known about the asbestos for years.
According to experts the cloth was installed long before it was known that asbestos causes mesothelioma. It is a design feature that was incorporated into the mammoth air vents in order to reduce vibration and cut down on noise. The depot was built in 1947, and historians have guessed that the vents and their linings have been there ever since its initial construction.
Asbestos Fibers Circulated Through Air Breathed By Thousands
The vents that are lined with the asbestos-contaminated cloth are located in the fan room, whose sole purpose is the circulation of air throughout the building that is the employment home of hundreds of bus operators, maintenance workers, dispatchers and administrative staff. The depot also operates a robust internship program that employs high school students, and many current employees expressed specific concerns for the young people.
Though MTA officials are attempting to tamp down concerns about mesothelioma, MTA employees who spoke off the record say that air tests came back “hot.” Union representatives are indicating that an asbestos monitoring program should be put in place so that those exposed to the fibers in the depot can have the assurance that any disease that arises would be detected early.
There are few things more frightening than knowing that you’ve been exposed to asbestos and are at risk for malignant mesothelioma. If you need information about the disease, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.