Neighborhoods around the Sumas Mountain area are at an increased risk of naturally occurring asbestos exposure due to recent flooding. The floodwaters could carry the asbestos particles from the sediment of a decades-old landslide into neighboring communities. In addition to floodwaters, a local hydrogeologist from Washington State’s Department of Ecology stated that the Sumas River and Swift Creek will continue to carry the dangerous, natural material.
Officials with the Whatcom County Health Department are encouraging residents to take steps to help reduce the risk of exposure. These steps include efforts to keep flood waters out of homes and wearing a respirator when cleaning flooded areas. Other measures, like taking off shoes before entering your home and rinsing them off if they came in contact with flood waters can also help.
This event is an opportunity to remind the community of the dangers that can come with exposure to asbestos. This naturally occurring material is a known carcinogen. The United States Department of Health and Human Services has stated that exposure to asbestos can cause cancers like mesothelioma, a rare cancer of thin membranes within the chest and abdomen as well as cancers of the lungs, ovaries, colorectum, pharynx, and stomach.
Although still important to take precautions to avoid exposure, health officials made a point to clarify that asbestos in the liquid form, as present in the flood waters, does not pose the same risks as when inhaled in the air. Those who are at an increased risk of becoming ill due to exposure are generally exposed on a regular basis, often at work. This can include those in the shipbuilding trade as well as those working in construction and building trades.
Legal remedies are available when workplace exposure to asbestos results in a cancer diagnosis. An attorney experienced in this niche area of the law can review the details of your case and discuss your options.