Asbestos - tsunami's other hidden danger

By Tomoko Hosaka

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All the people taking volunteer tours into the area should take note. Those drugstore masks are useless against asbestos. Check out what the scientist in the picture is wearing.

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Only Friable asbestos is dangerous. Other forms are not at all. But people should wear masks just to keep the other crap out of their lungs as well.

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This is like the cleanup of 9/11 World Trade Center all over again.

Dying of asbestos is an agonizing slow death.

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goddog, only undamaged asbestos is relatively safe. Even the asbestos insulating board commonly used in construction until recently will release fibres when damaged. Asbestos in buildings is as ubiquitous here as elsewhere and not easy to get rid of safely when laying in a massive heap on the floor. In addition to P3 rated masks (warnerbro's right about the drugstore masks) and disposable coveralls, common practise is to damp down the heap and use water sprays when moving large quantities of potential asbestos containing rubble.

Potentially, this could be a big public health 20-40 years time.

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"This is like a suicidal act"

Not really, regarding asbestos. It is more like smoking a carton of cigarettes. Unwise, unhealthy, but not suicidal.

Although spray-on asbestos was banned in 1975, a broader law preventing asbestos use didn’t come until 2006.

I think you missed one important change. "In April 1995, manufacture, import, supply and use of crocidolite and amosite and products containing them were prohibited by the amendments of Enforcement Order of Industrial Safety and Health Law."

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Asbestos cleanup

Encase the area to be worked on in plastic. Wear a protective suit and proper, not drugstore-type, masks. Damp down and bag up asbestos. When leaving the area, go through an additional area where you remove your protective suit and put it into a container, shower, and then put on your street clothes. There have been instances where the family of workers exposed to asbestos have gotten asbestosis from the fibers on the clothes. Not everyone exposed to the stuff seems to get sick, but for the ones who do get sick, it's not a nice disease to have.

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