Asbestos awareness week is now upon us with highlights of risks from Asbestos Exposure in the state of Georgia. Due to the lack of asbestos regulations, many Georgia citizens have put themselves at risk without even knowing it. Thanks to Asbestos Awareness Week, some of 11 Alive Investigators have uncovered scary details. One of the worse risk factors from their investigation show the state agency responsible for assuring asbestos abatement is done by an asbestos licensed contractor is not doing their own job of regulating dangerous abatement procedures.
The 11 Alive Investigators report many Georgians are at high risk of cancer from improper Asbestos abatement. One common story we often hear is like Dan Pearson’s. Dan has been diagnosed with Mesothelioma, an exclusive cancer caused from asbestos exposure. The Asbestos Awareness Week allows stories like Dan’s to reach more people. Although Dan should still have many more years to enjoy life, his diagnosis will prevent that.
Dan Pearson has had to put everything in his life aside because the cancer, Mesothelioma, will soon take his life. The doctors have given him only six to eight months to live. Because there is no cure, this diagnosis is a death sentence. And, to make matters more complicated, Dan was exposed to asbestos containing materials over 20 years ago. He now must file a lawsuit against boiler manufactures and building material manufacturers, which he did.
Many young people are even more at risk for asbestos exposure because the history about it has died off somewhat. However, it is still a fact that nearly every home across the nation that was built before 1978 does contain asbestos materials. You will never know you have been breathing it in because it has no taste or smell. You will see symptoms of asbestos exposure rear its ugly head many years after exposure has taken place.
A quick drive through many Metro Atlanta communities will show you how many older homes exist in area and how many are under renovation. This renovation process exposes all workers and those who reside in the home to asbestos. A highly-recognized Atlanta attorney, Rob Buck, has helped many asbestos related litigations in the state of Georgia. Asbestos Awareness Week helps get the message out to the public that there are no recognized safe levels of asbestos exposure in the science or medicine worlds.
The only laws and requirements pertaining to asbestos abatement is for contractors to hire a licensed asbestos inspector to identify and safely remove all asbestos containing materials before any renovations can take place. However, the 11 Alive Investigation has revealed that the agency responsible for checking things out rarely does so.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources should be monitoring all operations on asbestos abatement, but the state of Georgia actually defunded the program in 2011 in order to save money. Before they stopped monitoring operations, state inspectors continuously found dozens of violators each year. Agency records show the DNR has not cited anyone in the past seven eight years.
The head of Land Protection Division, Jeff Cown, says that no citations in several years does not mean no one is violating the asbestos abatement laws. His department transferred the enforcement program to the EPA. This is where things get very confusing and very concerning. The EPA only enforces asbestos abatement contractors for commercial buildings. They do not oversee residential properties at all. Therefore, no one is enforcing the rules, regulations and law for thousands of residential properties each year.
Out of the 6,700 permits that were issued in the City of Atlanta over the past few years, no one has checked the license of the inspector or for asbestos materials before demolition began. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources admits no one is checking on anything related to asbestos.
For years now, the only time the Department of Natural Resources gets involved to check on things is when someone from the public calls in to complain about abatement violations. They then send out a lead paint inspector, who does not work for the state, to check on the violations and cite the contractor if violations are indeed found.
This year’s Asbestos Awareness Week has taught us that many local governments in Georgia don’t require confirmation before demolition or renovations begin. And, Atlanta’s permitting office does not require contractors to prove anything either.
At this time, nothing will be done by the state to ensure rules and regulations are being monitored, which puts us all in danger. At this point, it’s all an honor system.
If you want to ensure you are not putting yourself or others at risk, call Morris Environmental at 770-546-3998 for asbestos air testing. We also do onsite analysis via our mobile lab so you will have results quickly.