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Did Fallen Philadelphia Building Expose Firefighters To Asbestos

It has now been more than three weeks since the building collapse at 22nd and Market in Philadelphia claimed the lives of six individuals, and first responders are now beginning to ask whether they were exposed to asbestos while responding to the deadly Philadelphia construction accident. In particular, the first responders are concerned since exposure to asbestos fibers has been known to eventually lead to the development of mesothelioma, which a deadly form of cancer.

The June 5th accident occurred when a four-story building that was being demolished collapsed on a Salvation Army store that was located next door and filled with morning shoppers.

Sadly, according to a statement reported by NBC 10 News, Fire Commission Llyod Ayers claims that Philadelphia firefighters were not wearing any asbestos protective gear when they rushed to the building collapse site. Even more concerning is the fact that as many as 125 emergency crews worked for several hours each at the accident site, according to Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey.

Interestingly, the collapsed building was inspected for asbestos before the demolition began, but the City of Philadelphia is not making the report available to the public because of the ongoing grand jury investigation.

However, a copy of the inspection report obtained by NBC 10 News indicates that the building was likely free from asbestos, although the inspector admits that he didn’t perform any actual tests for asbestos. The inspector states that tests were not necessary because he didn’t observe any “suspect material” and thus there was no need to take any samples.

Source: NBC 10 Philadelphia, “1st Responders Fear Asbestos Exposure at Deadly Building Collapse Site,” Harry Hairston & Karen Araiza, June 29, 2013