Most fears over mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases come from occupational exposure to the deadly mineral, but for residents of Davidson, North Carolina, the risk is coming from the places where they live and play. In response to finding multiple locations with unsafe asbestos levels, the EPA has announced it will be moving residents into hotels to ensure their safety during a major cleanup project.
History of Asbestos Dumping Leads to Fears of Mesothelioma
Both the EPA and health experts are expressing concern about mesothelioma and other health risks posed by the asbestos, which local officials say originally came from a mill that operated in the area from 1930 through 1970. Waste asbestos from the mill was used as fill in the town’s Roosevelt Wilson Park and in other areas in the town’s West Side, which is historically African American. Residents’ yards and driveways are also filled with the dangerous fibers, which can cause significant health issues if inhaled.
So far the EPA has tested 136 properties in the area, expressing concern that if asbestos-contaminated areas are disturbed then the fibers could become airborne. Eleven of the tested properties showed dangerous levels of contaminated soil. Now the goal is to remove the concerning material without creating additional problems. According to the EPA’s Angela Miller, “We’re going to wet the contaminated soil before we excavate. And once we remove contaminated soil, we’ll do what we call a confirmation soil sample. We’ll take a soil sample to make sure we got it.” Then fresh sod and fill will be laid over top of the area that has been excavated. “We’re going to restore areas to their original condition, or sometimes better,” she said.
Hotel Rooms Will Protect Residents from Mesothelioma Risk
Residents have expressed concern about the heightened risk of mesothelioma caused by inhaling dislodged asbestos. According to Miller, they will be offered hotel rooms to keep them away from the area, and air-monitoring equipment will confirm when it is safe for them to return. The entire project is expected to take about two months.
This is not the first time that the neighborhood has been alerted to the risk of mesothelioma. Just three years ago, $3 million was spent on testing and cleanup in another area close to where the mill had been. At that time over 6,000 tons of asbestos-contaminated soil were taken away. The EPA’s return was prompted by residents expressing concern, as well as by asbestos discovered during water main work in the area.
If you or someone you love has been exposed to asbestos, the risk of mesothelioma is real. For more information about the resources available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.