Monday, January 10, 2011

Reader Submitted Public Health Announcement: Asbestos and Lead

This reader submission is from Matthew Phillips. Matthew Phillips is actually not a Hoboken resident, however his grandfather was a firefighter so he has  always been interested in the profession. He sometimes likes to scour the internet for news and information about firefighters and their stories. He went ahead and typed a little something up and sent it over to me a while back and it has now been liberated from the queue of stories I have in the pipeline. I am publishing this since it is handy public safety message and a reminder of some of the danger Hoboken firefighters and residents can be exposed to with older construction. Here goes.....

The chill of winter can be merciless. But we have learned to combat the ice and sleet with our own means of warmth. We crank up the heat, take a long hot shower. Then we slip into toasty PJ's, curl up on the couch, and let the hot cocoa have it's way.

But amidst late night movies and gooey chocolate chip cookies, could we be putting the ones we love in danger just by being indoors?

There are two things to keep an eye out for, especially during seasons that call for a lot of inside time: lead and asbestos.

Asbestos under magnification
First up is asbestos, a mineral found in drywall and insulation in old houses and buildings. It was originally used because of its fire resistant qualities. And it fulfilled it's purpose nicely. But in the mid 1970's, people started to realize that asbestos was killing people.

Mesothelioma, a tough but rare cancer, attacks the lungs of people exposed to asbestos through inhalation. Mesothelioma symptoms ( include shortness of breath and chest heaviness, but these can be latent for 20-50 years. By the time anyone catches on, the cancer has metastasized and it's too late. It’s important to find out more about asbestos and mesothelioma to keep your family and home safe.

Lead paint on old house
Next up is lead. This is a big one, too. Lead is often used to line water heaters and pipes It's also used in some paints and when inhaled or digested can lead to lead poisoning. This can cause muscular weakness, abdominal pain, and memory loss in adults. It can be deadly for kids. Lead poisoning is more common than some of us may think, and it still kills thousands of people around the world, spread through dust and water.

So with colder seasons keeping us comfortable, bundled up, and snowed in, remember to keep your family's health in mind. Information is the first step to healthy living, and being knowledgeable about poisons like lead and asbestos can lead to many more winters and a whole lot more hot cocoa!

-Matthew Phillips