NYC residents caught in asbestos cloud are fearful for their health

27 Jul 2018 by under News

steam pipe explosion NYC image by Con Edison 100x100 NYC residents caught in asbestos cloud are fearful for their healthNew York City residents suddenly displaced after an 86-year-old, asbestos-coated steam pipe burst sending a cloud of debris over Manhattan’s Flatiron district, are not only coping with homelessness, unable to get into their homes except in the event of an emergency, they are also fearful what the asbestos exposure will do to their health.

“It’s a little nerve-racking when you see people in hazmat suits,” said Johnathan Schwartz. Per recommendations from public health officials, he removed the clothes he was wearing the day of the blast, stuffed them in a bag, and dropped them off for disposal.

Cheree Taylor said she was caught in the steam cloud on her way to the gym. “I’m a little scared,” she said. “I kind of got this kind of brown mist on me, just lightly but, you know, I’m sure I breathed something in.”

The fears of residents are warranted. Asbestos exposure can cause serious illnesses including the incurable, debilitating lung disease asbestosis; lung cancer; and , a rare but deadly form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs and other internal organs. It can take as many as 50 years for to develop after asbestos exposure. Once diagnosed, the disease usually proves deadly within 12 to 24 months.

The city has taken the issue seriously. Immediately after the blast, 49 buildings were evacuated, displacing residents and workers in office and retail space in the area along Fifth Avenue. Twenty-eight of the buildings are considered in the “hot zone,” the area where asbestos contamination is more likely. Residents and workers in that area will not be allowed to return – except for emergency needs – until each of the buildings has been assessed and the area deemed safe from asbestos exposure.

So far, the exteriors of several of the evacuated buildings have been washed down, and at least five have been reopened. Vehicles have been permitted back on some streets that were previously closed.

Displaced residents received $500 in compensation from Con Ed, but can make further claims for additional expenses.

Source: New York Times

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