Public Health Risk? Asbestos Abatement at Domino Sugar Factoryby on
Last week, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and Dr. Jay Parkinson, MD, MPH, Co-founder of Sherpaa hosted a town hall in south side Williamsburg to discuss and demand safe asbestos abatement at the Domino Sugar Refinery and more transparency regarding asbestos removal and possible risks of exposure.
The town hall convened after a community resident took video and uploaded it to YouTube of New York Insulation employees doing open-air asbestos abatement work on the roof of one of the buildings and engaging in what could be non-compliant actions.
Linda Reinstein, President, CEO and Co-founder of ADAO presented a slideshow, “Asbestos: Exposing the Truth” that discussed the dangers and health risks of asbestos. 10,000 workers die of asbestos related diseases, like mesothelioma, annually. She touched upon the history of asbestos and its intersection with science/health, policy and advocacy. Even though the first case of asbestos lung-disease occurred in the early 1900s, it wasn’t until the 1970s that the U.S. created asbestos related laws and policies.
If you’re unfamiliar with the dangers of asbestos, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website has a helpful Q&A guide.
How Can People Be Exposed to Asbestos?
Asbestos fibers may be released into the air by the disturbance of asbestos-containing material during product use, demolition work, building or home maintenance, repair, and remodeling. In general, exposure may occur only when the asbestos-containing material is disturbed or damaged in some way to release particles and fibers into the air.
Health Effects From Exposure to Asbestos
Exposure to asbestos increases your risk of developing lung disease. That risk is made worse by smoking. In general, the greater the exposure to asbestos, the greater the chance of developing harmful health effects. Disease symptoms may take many years to develop following exposure.
Reinstein then segued into asbestos removal at the Domino Sugar development. Two Trees, the Domino Sugar developer, hired New York Insulation to do the asbestos removal, even though New York Insulation had numerous violations against them including violations for improper bagging of asbestos, improper preparation of work area, and improper personal protective equipment and others.
Reinstein emphasized that the objective of the town hall wasn’t to stop urban development, but rather to demand urban responsibility from developers. She said, “This is not about Domino, Two Trees. This is about public health and safety.”
The final call to action was a list of demands from the community of Williamsburg and ADAO to federal, state and city agencies including EPA, DEP, DEC, NY Dept. of Labor, and NYC Dept. of Sanitation Environmental Police. Demands included:
- An immediate “field investigation.”
- Copy of all air testing reports.
- Evaluation of the current asbestos abatement procedures occurring at the Domino Sugar Refinery.
- Evaluation of the asbestos-containing material that has been subjected to sanding, grinding, cutting and abrading or that which has been crumbled, pulverized or reduced to powder in the course of demolition that may be in violation of federal regulations.
View the ADAO’s slideshow for the Williamsburg event below.
For related stories:
Developer at Brooklyn’s Domino Factory selects controversial asbestos removal firm