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Asbestos and Health

Asbestos and Health

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Asbestos and Health

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  1. Asbestos and Health

  2. Overview • Background on asbestos • Uses of asbestos • Health Effects • Risk factors • Medical tests • Proper handling • Standards/ guidelines

  3. What is Asbestos? • Mineral • Fibrous • White/grey • Indestructible • Fireproof

  4. How Long Has it Been a Problem? • Early Greek miners wore face masks from animal bladders • Insurers stopped selling insurance in 1915 • Cancer cases in 1930’s • Asbestos industry withheld information • Selikoff studies in 1960’s • Banning of some uses in 1980’s

  5. Uses of Asbestos • Fireproofing of buildings • Heat insulation • Strengthen building materials

  6. Products that can contain asbestos • Spray insulation • Pipecovering • Asbestos cloth • Cements, mastic, sealants • Roofing materials • Floor & ceiling tiles • Plaster & taping compound

  7. Hazards of Asbestos • Harmful only when breathed in (maybe when swallowed) • Fiber shape: long, thin • Travels in air, gets deep in lungs • Sharp shape gets stuck in lungs • Doesn’t break down

  8. Asbestos Diseases • Asbestosis • Pleural Plaques • Cancer • Lung • Mesothelioma • G-I Tract

  9. Asbestos Diseases • No completely safe levels • Higher the exposure, higher the risk • Low exposures have low risk • Everyone exposed to asbestos • Lag time (latency) of 10-40 years • No acute effects

  10. Asbestosis • Not cancer • Scarring of lungs • From high exposures • Causes shortness of breath

  11. Pleural Plaques • Scars on lungs • Shows up on x-rays • Marker of asbestos exposure • Half of heavily exposed will have • “Not a disease”: no symptoms • Does not change into cancer • Legally considered a disease

  12. Lung cancer • Most common problem with asbestos • Heavily exposed workers have 5-7 times increased risk over lifetime • About same level of risk as a pack a day cigarette smoking • Interacts with cigarettes: 50-90 times increased risk for both combined • Quitting smoking reduces risk

  13. Other Cancers • Mesothelioma • Cancer of lining of the lungs • Only caused by asbestos • Smoking not a risk factor • G-I tract cancer • 2-3 times increased risk for heavily exposed

  14. Medical tests • Physical • History • X-rays • Lung function tests

  15. What is Risk? • Studies are from heavily exposed asbestos workers • Construction trades working with asbestos have 1/4 or less risk than asbestos workers • Chemical plant maintenance has about 1/8 • Other maintenance workers are much lower • Asbestos has been phased out & removed in many areas

  16. Safe handling of asbestos • Find out where the asbestos is • Management plan • Remove if needed by licensed contractors • Only dangerous if is in the air • Removal may be more dangerous than leaving • If is bound in material (tiles, etc) is not a hazard • Should be labeled if left in place

  17. “Safe” handling of asbestos • No absolutely safe exposure • Wet methods • HEPA vacuums and respirators • Never dry sweep or compressed air • Stays in air for days • Small fibers can’t be seen • “Friable” asbestos means it can be crumbled

  18. Maintenance & asbestos • Do not drill, sand, or saw asbestos materials • Wet mop rather than dry sweep or dust • Do not use a regular vacuum: only HEPA • Do not disturb asbestos materials • If use a face mask, only HEPA • If are air filters, use wet methods, do not shake

  19. Training/ removal • Removal by certified contractors • Enclosures, ventilation, wet methods, HEPA • Glove bags, wetting agents, signs • Encapsulation • Training needed based on level of exposure • Level 4 for clean up of asbestos containing materials • Proper disposal while still wet; labeled bags

  20. Regulations • EPA regulations on removal • OSHA Standard for general industry or construction • State licensing for asbestos removal • Workers’ compensation • Reporting of suspected occupational diseases

  21. EPA:Control of Asbestos in Buildings • Survey to see if asbestos is present • Operations and Management Program • Assess the asbestos • Abatement if needed

  22. Survey • Appoint manager & team • Check building records • Locate & document all asbestos in records • Inspect for friable • Collect & test samples • Document

  23. Operations and Maintenance • Contact building managers & maintainers • Educate employees and occupants • Train custodians/ maintainers • Clean using HEPA & wet methods; regular basis • Special precautions for construction work • Inspect twice a year • Continue program until all asbestos removed

  24. Assess Asbestos • Assess current conditions and chances of disturbance • Determine • Need for further action • When it needs to be done • What abatement methods to use

  25. Conduct Abatement if Needed • Hire contractor: • To select: • Precise contract • Check references • Interview • Insurance • Best, not low bid

  26. Managing Abatement • Inspect 4 times a day • Containment barrier • Coveralls & respirators • Changing & decontamination facilities • Stop work if problem • Release only when • Cleaned at least twice • Visual test • Airborne asbestos test

  27. OSHA Standard • Applies if over maximum exposure • Maximum of 0.2 fibers per cc of air (8 hour) • Maximum of 1 fiber per cc (30 minute) • Exposure monitoring if above action level (0.1 fiber per cc) • Engineering controls where feasible • Proper respirators

  28. OSHA Standard (2) • Regulated areas • Labels • Recordkeeping for 30 years • Protective clothing • Change rooms & showers • Medical Exams