The following is a “Guest Editorial” submitted to the Corrector by Krista Peterson. Krista refers to herself as a Health and Safety advocate that is also an aspiring writer and recent college graduate that has a strong passion for the wellness of others in the community and for the environment. The Corrector thanks you for your input Krista
Keeping Children In Havre Safe
Sometimes parenting in a small town it can seem as though you know all of the dangers present in the entire town- that you are aware of every spooky shadow, every bad seed, all the potentials pitfalls your child could face. However, it may well be that there is a serious danger skulking about in our own homes. According to John Podolinsky of the Montana State Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) between 1993 and 2003, Montana was 78 percent noncompliant with regulations on asbestos, a deadly material that has been known to cause mesothelioma cancer.
This is despite Montana’s progressive Montana Asbestos Control Act (ACA) and Administrative Rules of Montana (ARM) 17.74.354 that require an asbestos inspection prior to any building demolition and renovation activity. Unfortunately, the law only requires commercial, public, industrial, and large scale (5 or more units) residential buildings to be inspected, even though a large portion of asbestos exposure can happen in the home. All in all before it was banned asbestos was found in over 3,000 different household products. Because the ordinance doesn’t require inspection of most commercial houses and for decades asbestos was used as an extremely common insulator there’s a shockingly large chance that your house might contain asbestos.
The act banned asbestos from commercial and residential use in Montana, despite its low cost and fire-resistant properties, largely because of the extreme danger inherent in using it as it is a potent carcinogen. Whenever it is disturbed, sanded, broken, burnt, or cut, asbestos can release almost invisible fibers into the air. These fibers settle on the clothes, hair, and shoes of those who handle the product and often their loved ones and family members as well. When these fine fibers are inhaled or ingested, tissue scarring results in mesothelioma, a cancer that ravages the lining of the lungs, the abdomen, and the heart.
Although mesothelioma symptoms are extremely rare in children because of their 20 to 50 year dormancy period, there is no age at which exposure to asbestos is not a danger to cause cancer. Remember, keeping your children safe begins with keeping them safe at home- and far too often in Montana children have been dangerously exposed to asbestos.