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According to a recent news feature from the Washington City Paper, a 59-year-old man has just pleaded to asbestos related violations of the federal Clean Air Act involving an historic home that many consider to be one of our nation’s architectural treasures.

constructionsiteThis residence in question is located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, DC.  It was known as the Friendship House and was purchased by Francis Scott Key shortly after he wrote “The Star Spangled Banner.”  Following Key’s ownership of the Friendship House, it became the site of a not-for-profit organization and was used as such for nearly a century. Continue reading →

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According to the The Huffington Post, asbestos in classrooms has become a major problem across the country. Schools are reportedly not handling the problem well.  The reporter notes that any older school building likely has asbestos, and some of that asbestos could be harming your children.

asbestosTo get an idea of how bad the problem has become, we can first look at data collected by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the mid 1980s.  At that time, the EPA released an estimate that more than 100,000 grade schools contained asbestos and over 700,000 public buildings did as well in the U.S.  As if this was not bad enough, they estimated that of those 100,000 schools slightly more than a third of them contained friable asbestos. Continue reading →

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Teaticket Elementary School in Falmouth remains closed as the new academic year begins, due to concerns of student exposure to asbestos.

School officials had hired a contractor to work on the facility this summer to address a number of repair and maintenance issues. However, during the course of the construction work, some ceiling tiles were damaged, and inspectors immediately became concerned that those tiles contained asbestos.

old-schools-class-room-881694-mThese tiles were made at a time when asbestos was used in virtually every aspect of construction and building materials and tiles were among one of the major offenders in terms of containing the deadly asbestos files.  As is required, the inspectors hired an asbestos abatement contractor to come in and take samples of the tiles.  Trained and certified asbestos inspectors take the samples, and the samples themselves are securely stored and transported to a materials testing lab to perform a microscopic analysis.  In the case of this school, it was confirmed that asbestos was present in the tiles and was now posing a risk to anyone in the school. Continue reading →

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When we think of asbestos and the damage it can do, we are normally thinking of malignant mesothelioma.  Malignant mesothelioma is a very aggressive form of cancer that will normally result in a patient’s death within a short period of time after initial diagnosis.

xrayanalysisOne of the reasons for the short life expectancy after initial diagnosis for someone with malignant mesothelioma is because of how the cancer affects a person and how it grows and spreads.  The illness begins when someone inhales or otherwise ingests deadly asbestos fibers.  These fibers are sharp and can become embedded in a layer of tissue called the mesothelium.  As one might expect, this is where mesothelioma gets its name. Continue reading →

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According to a recent news article from the Cape Cod Times, a meeting was recently held that more than 100 parents attended.  The topic of this meeting was what about the more than 300 students who cannot return to the Teaticket Elementary School where they are registered. The reason they cannot go to their normal school is because it is closed due to asbestos hazards.

schoolAs is the case with many of the schools on the Cape and in the greater Boston area, this one was built at a time when asbestos was heavily used.  Asbestos has the natural ability to resist heat, fire, caustic chemicals, and electricity, but it also has the ability to work as a chemical binding agent.  This ability to work as a chemical binding agent means that it is good to be used in epoxies, glues, and other joint compounds such as drywall cement.  It is not flammable and the joint would break down due to exposure to normal conditions in the short term.  It will eventually break down over time, and that is where the problem starts. Continue reading →

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The asbestos abatement process is serious business.  In order to safely remove asbestos from a renovation or demolition job site before work can be completed, a certified contractor, using trained workers, must remove all of the asbestos pursuant to an asbestos abatement plan that was approved by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MASSDep).  At various times during the abatement process, abatement reports must be submitted and air quality must be monitored for particulate mater (asbestos fibers) in the atmosphere, which is not allowed and can be very dangerous to those in the general area.

vermiculiteAll workers must be trained in asbestos abatement and must be provided with proper safety equipment.  This typically includes coveralls that will be destroyed once a shift is completed and ventilators or respirators. In addition to preventing asbestos-related injuries to themselves, it is also important for the workers to make sure they are not taking asbestos dust home to their families at the end of the day. Continue reading →

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There is no denying the space program in the United States is not like it once was.  The shuttle program ended years ago, and neither NASA nor the U.S. government currently have any ability to send manned rockets into space.  For any manned space flights, NASA must rely on Russia’s space agency to take astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) using their aging Soyuz rockets.  While it is true that without the shuttle program, ISS could never have been built, the remaining shuttles have had their engines removed and were sent to museums for permanent display.   There are three remaining shuttles which are the Atlantis, Discovery, and Endeavor, which are now all tourist attractions.

rocket-1449226This is not to say there will never be manned space program, as a Mars mission capable rocket is currently being developed, and two private companies are handling unmanned space flight for the time being. Continue reading →

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The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) or, as it more commonly known by locals as the “the T,” is suffering a major setback in an effort to restore and refurbish its green line trolley cars, according to a recent news feature in the Boston Globe.   The green line is one of the older parts of the system and, with its street level trolley cars (also called Ts), is one of its most well known aspects to those who do not live in the city.

trolleybus-by-night-1518660Unlike in Europe, trolley cars are not very popular in most cities in the Untied States.  There are a lot of reasons for this, but it is primarily because General Motors purchased the right-of-way to much of the trolley tracks in the U.S. following the Second World War.  The reason the company did this was so they could destroy them leaving their bus manufacturing business with little competition in terms of public transportation options, and most trolley lines were replaced with bus lines.  In some cases, these were actually electric bus lines that used the same power lines as the trolleys, and examples of this can be seen in Boston and Cambridge today. Continue reading →

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According to a recent news feature from the Dorchester Reporter, a major construction project at University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass Boston) will not likely be ready when school starts next month.  The reason for this is because asbestos discoveries have seriously delayed the process.

asbestosThe project involving moving all utility infrastructure located on the Columbia Point section of the UMass Boston campus to another location as part of an effort to improve the campus. While performing scheduled demolition work last December, inspectors located what they suspected to be asbestos.  After their discovery, the called in a certified asbestos abatement firm to collect soil samples and send them to a hazardous materials testing laboratory to confirm the presence of the deadly asbestos fibers. Continue reading →

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While those in the asbestos industry went to great lengths to prevent the general public from learning about the dangers of asbestos and that the deadly fibers could cause malignant mesothelioma, it is now a well-known fact.  It is for this reason that many companies over the years have been sued in connection with the tens of thousands of deaths connected with the toxic material.

ussupremecourthallwayDue to the fact that the deadly asbestos fibers often take between 20 and 50 years to metastasize into the cancer to a point where people know they are sick, there are still thousands of new cases being diagnosed each year in the United States alone. Continue reading →