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As Joplin cleanup continues, asbestos remains a concern

When a massive tornado hit Joplin, Missouri, earlier this year, it brought with it 200 mph winds. As the half-mile tornado tore through the town, it damaged more than 8,000 buildings destroyed, including homes, business, and other structures.

Although Joplin residents and city officials have worked hard to clean up the city, there remain more than 100 homes that are damaged beyond repair but that have not been destroyed by their owners. Now, the city has taken on the task of demolishing the houses in question. But before it does so, it must take proper precautions to ensure that the asbestos present in the homes are properly removed so as not to cause additional harm to workers and nearby residents.

According to the Joplin Globe, there are about 120 homes that will be demolished by the city in the coming months. Because most of the houses were built before the government issued asbestos guidelines in 1977, they likely contain large amounts of asbestos.

However, the city reportedly has a plan to address this high risk by assigning recently-hired asbestos specialists to inspect the homes for the harmful fibers before destroying them. The homes will be divided up into groups of 20 and examined by the inspector. Any asbestos found will be removed prior to the start of the demolition process.

If the city allowed the homes to be razed without first checking them for asbestos, it would be violating the federal Clean Air Act, not to mention causing harm to the residents of the already-battered city. We are glad that the city is taking these steps to ensure the safety of nearby residents.

Source: Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, "Tornado-ravaged Joplin, MO Still dealing with Asbestos Concerns," Jan. 2, 2012

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