Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Image by Getty Images via @daylifeOur prayers go out to Japan in the aftermath of Japan's March 11 earthquake and tsunami, including the swamped nuclear reactor that has leaked radiation. However, like most disasters the tragedy doesn't end after the disaster. The next phase of the disaster is handling the devastion that has occurred and try to handle this in the most productive and safe manner possible. As the MSNBC report, "Japan Disaster's Other Hidden Danger: Asbestos," indicates activitists have found asbestos, the cancer-causing fibrous mineral, in the air and debris collected from the devastated northeastern coast of Japan. As we clean-up from these disasters it has become more important to ensure the safety of the clean-up workers and those near the area of the disaster from being exposed to the various environmental hazards that occur after a disaster. Asbestos, lead, mercury, silica, volatile organic compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls, and dioxin are just a few of the various chemicals that these workers could be exposed to. Though Japan is overwhelmed with enormity of the task ahead of them and needless to say the nuclear reactor leak is extremely serious. We hope they learn the lessons we seem unable to learn (mistakes made during the World Trade Center, Katrina, and Gulf-oil spill clean-ups) regarding the importance of ensuring the occupational health (illness prevention) of the clean-up workers. The proper use of respirators (including fit testing and training), proper decontamination of workers before they go home to their families, and the proper use of dust control practices during demolition and construction work to reduce dust emissions all should be standard practice for clean-up activities after a disaster.