Mass. tornado raises risk of asbestos exposure for residents

June 16th, 2011

A recent tornado in Massachusetts that severely damaged buildings and trees in several communities may have exposed residents in that area to a risk of asbestos exposure. The June 1 tornado left a 39-mile trail of debris stretching from Westfield to Charlton, Massachusetts.

State environmental officials say that many of the buildings damaged by the tornado were older structures that contained asbestos materials, such as pipes or insulation. Because exposure to asbestos can lead to a number of serious and potentially deadly diseases, including mesothelioma and lung cancer, officials have warned residents of the affected area to use caution in disposing of these materials.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection says that demolition debris should be wetted down and areas when asbestos may be found should be identified in order to minimize the risk of exposure. Although property owners are responsible for removing downed trees and debris from their own property, officials say that demolition debris should not be handled by property owners, but should instead be removed by licensed Construction and Demolition waste-hauling contractors.

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