Oregon contractor fined for unlicensed asbestos removalThe Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently fined Medford resident Thomas Ray Moroni $8,400 for allegedly performing an asbestos abatement project on a house without being licensed to do so.
According to a release from the agency, Moroni was accused of removing approximately 2,000 square feet of cement asbestos board siding from a house in January 2010. Moroni reportedly did not have a license that said he was qualified to perform the work and properly dispose of the carcinogenic mineral, the release said.
The agency added that when Moroni removed the asbestos siding, he crushed the material and is believed to have caused the dangerous mineral fibers to become loosened and airborne.
Asbestos fibers present health risks
When asbestos is disturbed and the fibers become airborne during such work, they can be inhaled by people in the surrounding area. The inhalation of such fibers can cause a number of consequences for the individual including the development of serious illnesses such as lung cancer, asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 2,500 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. Such a diagnosis can be devastating, as the symptoms of this disease often do not manifest themselves until decades after initial exposure to the carcinogen.
Moroni accused of leaving asbestos unpackaged
In its release, the DEQ also claimed that Moroni had allowed some of the removed asbestos to sit on the ground outside the house without first being properly packaged and sealed. Such an offense could put nearby residents at risk of developing an asbestos-related disease.
"We certainly want to alert contractors to be mindful that they may be working with asbestos material," said DEQ air quality inspector Steve Croucher, who is based in Medford. "There are a lot of requirements for dealing with asbestos because it's so dangerous."
Homeowners shoulder some responsibility
According to the Mail Tribune, Croucher added that homeowners can do their part in ensuring that asbestos is properly handled and removed by first checking to see if their house contains the carcinogenic material, then confirming that their contractor has been licensed to perform such work.
"Everybody on the project needs to be very diligent and make sure that the site's been checked for asbestos," he explained.
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