Arson Investigators and Asbestos Exposure
Arson investigators sift through the charred remains after a suspicious fire in search of clues as to whether the blaze was accidental or intentionally set. Arson investigators are focused on a criminal investigation, not whether the remains of a building may harm their health. When a fire occurs in an older house or building built before 1980, there is the likelihood that the structure contains asbestos materials such as asbestos insulation, asbestos floor coverings and asbestos pipe wrap. Disturbing asbestos materials can release toxic asbestos fibers into the air. Inhaling asbestos is associated with serious respiratory diseases, including mesothelioma, a form of cancer, and asbestosis.
Arson Investigators With Mesothelioma
Firefighters and arson investigators work in hazardous environments. They are at risk of asbestos exposure because asbestos fibers may remain in the air for hours after a fire is extinguished. As part of a fire scene investigation, arson investigators examine burn and smoke patterns and flammable liquid pour patterns to try to determine the fire’s point of origin. They spend hours at a fire scene, identifying and preserving evidence of arson. As they walk through a fire scene looking for evidence, they may inhale microscopic asbestos fibers if asbestos-containing materials have been disrupted by firefighters .
Asbestos is associated with several forms of cancer including mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs and abdominal cavity. If arson investigators inhale airborne asbestos fibers, the fibers can lodge in the lining of the lungs and cause irritation and inflammation that eventually lead to cancer.
The symptoms of mesothelioma typically take decades to appear. An arson investigator or firefighters exposed to asbestos dust in the 1970s may only recently have started noticing symptoms such as difficulty breathing, pain beneath the ribs and shortness of breath. You may only recently have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestos-related disease.