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Iowa’s asbestos inspectors overloaded

By Jason Clayworth, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

contained asbestosA contractor’s complaint has prompted closer scrutiny of possible asbestos exposure involving workers at a downtown Des Moines renovation project, but an inspector doesn’t even visit hundreds of sites across Iowa each year where workers could face risks from the cancer-causing material.

The routine lack of asbestos-handling inspections at construction sites in Iowa and across the nation represents a widespread failure to protect the public, environmental safety advocates say.

In Iowa, one inspector enforces U.S. Environmental Protection Agency asbestos removal regulations and oversees as many as 4,500 asbestos removal projects each year. Another inspector must try to enforce federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration asbestos regulations.

“It’s safe to say that enforcement of asbestos regulations nationwide is abysmal,” said Brent Kynoch of the Environmental Information Association, a group based in Maryland focused on health hazards in buildings, specifically asbestos.

“There are no budgets with either the state or federal governments to put the kind of inspection staff out there that we really would require to enforce the regulations,” Kynoch said.  Read More

The children who played with asbestos

By Francesca Williams, BBC News

Children in a County Durham village used to spend their days playing with lethal asbestos from a local factory. One, now 51, has cancer. What will happen to the rest?

It is the late 1960s and a little girl is playing hopscotch on a grid she has marked out – not with chalk, but a lump of asbestos.Caroline Wilcock

Forty-five years later she will be contemplating the cancerous mesothelioma in her lungs which is “growing out like a fungus”.

“I was doomed from then,” Caroline Wilcock says. “There was nothing I could have done between then and now to make a difference. I’m pleased I didn’t know it.”

She was one of many children in Bowburn who, between 1967 and 1983, played with asbestos from the factory opposite her house.

Its parent company, Cape Intermediate Holdings, is paying her a “substantial” out-of-court settlement, although it has denied liability for her illness.

Caroline describes a white, chalky film of asbestos dust on “the grass, the flowers and the bushes”. It also settled on window ledges.

The mothers were less impressed. Ann Sproat, a friend of Caroline’s sister, remembers them constantly cleaning.

“If cleaning wasn’t done we couldn’t see out the windows,” she says. “It was coming down like little dust particles, like tiny little aniseed balls.” Read More

Attorney General suing Slotky, Huff over asbestos