A recent news feature from the Boston Globe discusses how the historic organ pipes at one Massachusetts area church are finally sounding once again after a long period of asbestos abatement and other renovations that finally rendered the church safe again for its congregants.
This church’s pipe organ was built around 1874 and contains 633 individual pipes that have not been heard since 2012, when the church doors were shuttered, until this past weekend’s pipe organ festival that commemorated the reopening of the historic church.
The reason the church was closed was because the old stone church was built at a time when asbestos was heavily used in nearly every aspect of residential and commercial construction, and in this case, the construction of church in a small town in Massachusetts.
While the church looked sturdy from the outside due to the beautiful stone exterior, there were many problems. The slate roof was deteriorating, and this created a significant risk that those in the church as well as those in the community in general would become exposed to the deadly asbestos fibers.
While asbestos was used in a great deal of construction projects during much of our nation’s history, and it was very dangerous to the factory worker who manufactured the materials, the mine workers who dug the ore out out of the ground, and the builders who worked with the asbestos laden goods on a regular day, it is generally safe to the occupants of the building.
The reason for this is because if asbestos is used in wall joint compound for example, it is very dangerous when applied and even more dangerous when the excess is sanded off. If worker was not wearing a respirator, and none of them were, they would likely inhale the deadly asbestos fibers. Once inhaled, as our Boston malignant mesothelioma attorneys have seen in far too many cases, the fibers can become trapped in a layer of tissue known as the mesothelium, where they can metastasize into a deadly form of cancer. This cancer is known as malignant mesothelioma since it in this layer of tissue bearing the same name.
In addition to causing malignant mesothelioma, asbestos fibers can also cause a disease as a result of scarring of the lung tissue known as asbestosis. Asbestosis is similar to chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and is often painful and can result in death if untreated.
The reason occupants of a building are not generally at risk is because the fibers are essentially locked within the walls of the building. However, once the building starts to crumble, either from lack of upkeep, general old age, or during renovations, there is a high risk of exposure to the deadly fibers. Asbestos is most deadly when it is in a form capable of being crushed under the power of the human hand. This is because it will likely give off a large amount of dust.
In addition to the slate roof tiles, there was asbestos in many other parts of the building, including two old boilers attached to pipes that contained asbestos insulation. If you have ever seen old pipes wrapped in a white material, there is a decent chance that is asbestos and should be avoided at all costs.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
At Gilbertville church, a historic organ sounds anew, April 13, 2016, Boston Globe, By Emily Sweeney
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