Investigation Into Asbestos at the Smithsonian Institute
In April 2009, a congressional hearing will be held to investigate alleged asbestos health and safety violations at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
The hearing was prompted after the March 17, 2009 filing of a whistleblower claim by a museum lighting specialist. Throughout the man’s 27-year tenure at the Museum, he stated his job required him to routinely drill into walls where asbestos materials had been used.
The man has been diagnosed with asbestosis, a chronic lung disease caused by exposure to asbestos. Exposure to asbestos is also known to cause serious diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer.
The whistleblower claim states the Smithsonian did not warn or protect workers from exposure to asbestos. Asbestos-containing products had been used during construction and renovation projects at the museum, including the joint compound used to join the walls at the Air & Space Museum.
The claim also cites an allegation that proper asbestos procedures were not being followed as recently as February 2009, when contractors tracked dust and debris into public areas, leaving visitors at risk to be exposed to dangerous asbestos dusts.
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