Decontaminating homes and clothing of asbestos dust is essential, but many workers weren't warned
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Asbestos is known to cause cancer. For this reason, stringent decontaminating procedures for the home include air showers, laundering, airing, vacuuming and other methods of surface cleaning, and destruction and disposal of contaminated items, such as clothing.
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Asbestos decontaminating of home and clothing
In decades past, workers brought home asbestos dust and fibers on their clothing, thus exposing themselves and family members to the deadly cancer-causing material.
Nowadays, strict rules are in place to avoid asbestos exposure.
These procedures, however, can vary in effectiveness, depending on the specific methods employed, the contaminants, and the surfaces.
In general, hard surfaces can be far more easily decontaminated than clothes, carpets, and soft furniture. In most cases, effective decontamination requires relatively intensive methods. Lead, asbestos, pesticides, and beryllium contamination can be especially persistent. In some instances even intensive decontamination procedures may be ineffective.
Another serious concern is that decontamination methods can increase the hazard to the person performing the operation and to others in the household. Home laundering of contaminated clothing exposes the launderer to asbestos. Vacuuming of floors contaminated with mercury can substantially increase air concentrations, and vacuuming of carpets contaminated with lead can increase lead concentrations on the carpet surface.
Decontaminating home and clothing of asbestos
The difficulty of decontaminating work clothing of asbestos, the prominence of clothing as a source of home contamination and the potential exposure of the launderer, are problems that can be avoided through the use of disposable work clothing. The use, availability, and cost of this alternative needs to be assessed.