Exposure to asbestos caused by disasters

Last Updated on 22nd April 2021 by Marketing

Whilst it is well know that asbestos is a threat to tradespeople and construction workers who come into contact with asbestos through their work many other people can also be exposed due to world disasters.

Airborne debris that comes from buildings that have been destroyed can include asbestos dust, especially is that building was built prior to 2000. It is impractical and near impossible for the complete removal of asbestos in buildings. Natural disasters, industrial disasters and acts off terrorism can all destroy building causing then to scatter asbestos debris into the atmosphere putting residents of the area at risk to asbestos related disease.

There have been many cases where disasters have put the surrounding towns and their residents at risk;

In December 2014 a fire at in the boatsheds at a marina in the Netherlands created a large cloud of asbestos filled smoke. The dust from the fire covered most of the homes, cars and street in Roermond. The fire led the city’s shops, restaurants schools and roads to shut down for over a week whilst the city was cleaned up by crews.

There were 57,000 in the city, all of whom were advised to stay inside their homes keeping doors and windows shut during the removal of dust and debris so they were not exposed to the substance. Residents had to be decontaminated before exiting and entering buildings and dust was removed sprayed to stop particles floating into the atmosphere.

Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana killed more than 1800 people in 2005. Strong winds and flooding caused by the hurricane caused the spreading of asbestos and loose asbestos fibres into the atmosphere. The destruction of many homes containing asbestos contaminated the air and polluted drinking water with hundreds of hazardous pollutants. Asbestos is not banned in the US soothe majority of the homes would have contained a lot of asbestos.

Those involved in the clean up from the hurricane were most exposed to the asbestos as they were not properly trained on how to deal with the substance or properly protected from the fibres. Relief continued into 2008 exposing residents, workers and volunteers to asbestos for years after the hurricane struck.

The 9/11 terror attack in New York left a large asbestos cloud over Manhattan.  Asbestos was a prevalent construction material when the twin towers were built in the 1960’s. The world trade centre contained 400 tonnes of asbestos, undisturbed the substance is not hazardous, but when the towers collapsed the asbestos was disturbed and released into the air.

There were huge clean up efforts undertaken removing dust and debris from streets but despite the efforts there were still around 410,000 people exposed to the asbestos dust and toxins. Ground zero workers were the people at most risk of asbestos related disease and Mesothelioma.


For an asbestos management survey or refurbishment/demolition survey on your own building, visit https://www.armco.org.uk/ or call 0161 763 3727 to arrange your survey today.

We also offer comprehensive training in asbestos awareness, working with non-licensed asbestos and face fit testing training. For any enquiries or to book a training course call 0161 761 4424 or visit https://www.armcoasbestostraining.co.uk/




Published Feb 05, 2015

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