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Mesothelioma and First Responders

When something catastrophic happens to a building, first responders including police officers, firefighters and EMTs are usually called in to help.  Unfortunately, there are numerous buildings that were made with asbestos-containing materials or equipment and the rescue workers become exposed to those hazards upon entering the building.  The close proximity to the asbestos-containing materials puts these first responders at risk for an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma.

How Asbestos Exposure Occurs to First Responders

When a first responder enters a building that has asbestos, they can become exposed to asbestos dust.  When asbestos-containing materials are disturbed, their toxic particles get released into the air.  If these fibers are inhaled, severe health problems can follow.  Mesothelioma is one of the asbestos-related diseases that can occur in this type of situation.

Asbestos Exposure from Rescue Equipment and Stations

First responders also have the risk of coming into contact with asbestos dust even if they do not actually go into the building that contained asbestos-containing materials.  There are many fire and police stations that are older facilities that may contain asbestos building materials.  Firefighters also risk exposure to asbestos from the fire pumps and fire engines and there are even some older firefighter uniforms that contained asbestos.  In addition, there is exposure risk from pumps, valves, boilers and HVAC equipment that has asbestos parts.

Is There a Risk of Developing Mesothelioma for 9/11 Workers?

Mesothelioma symptoms can take up to 15 years or more to develop, so 9/11 rescue workers who came into contact with asbestos dust may not have experienced any symptoms yet.  Some of these rescue workers may experience this asbestos-related disease, and may experience signs that include shortness of breath, chest pains or wheezing many years after they were exposed.