Rich Lamb of CBS New York affiliate WCBS 880 radio reported that local authorities had arrested multiple asbestos inspectors on the alleged grounds of not doing their jobs. Their negligence is suspected to have exposed construction workers and other people to carcinogenic asbestos fibers.
The 17 suspects had been accused of faking official documents that vouched for the safety of numerous planned construction projects in Manhattan and Staten Island. The documents reputedly assert that construction workers will not disturb asbestos found in those locations. (Related: Asbestos & Other Environmental Risks That Cause Cancer.)
Several of the inspectors were also accused of avoiding spot inspections of physical locations, concealing the presence of asbestos, and lying about performing their duties when in fact they were nowhere to be found in New York or the U.S.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance brings up the particular instance of one investigator. The suspect claimed to have been busy inspecting a building for asbestos presence. But according to records, the man was actually on the other side of the U.S., near Disneyland in Los Angeles, California.
Asbestos inspectors get paid around $250 to $800 for each job they perform, explained Department of Investigations Commissioner Mark Peters. He pointed out that it's practically impossible for an asbestos inspector to accomplish a large number of jobs in just one day.
However, an inspector could simply file the forms without visiting the physical site. That allows him to charge multiple people for completing multiple jobs without doing any actual work, explained the commissioner.
WCBS 880 reporter Lamb raised the possibility of the arrested asbestos inspectors accepting bribes. In response, Commissioner Peters promised that authorities are continuing the investigation of the matter.
According to the National Cancer Institute, asbestos is a collective term for half a dozen silicate minerals that occur in nature as bundles of thin crystal fibers. Asbestos fibers do not conduct electricity; they are also highly resistant to chemicals, fire, and heat.
These useful qualities led to the heavy use of asbestos in the late 19th and 20th centuries. The automotive, construction, manufacturing, and shipbuilding industries all used asbestos to make fireproof, soundproof, and electrically insulated products and materials.
However, asbestos has been confirmed to cause various cancers of the lungs, larynx, and ovary, including a rare type of cancer called mesothelioma. It also raises the risk of lung and pleural disorders such as asbestosis.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) have all identified asbestos as a human carcinogen. Many developed nations have also banned asbestos mining and products.
Despite knowing the health risks associated with asbestos, the U.S. has not yet implemented a widespread ban on the material.
Disturbing asbestos products releases the fibers into the air. When inhaled, these fibers can get trapped in the airway and lungs for many years and cause the aforementioned cancers and related complications. Numerous asbestos products are present in older structures, making them dangerous for occupants and especially construction workers who must tear parts of those buildings down.
Asbestos abatement is undertaken to either control the release of asbestos fibers into the air or to remove them from the premises. The role of asbestos inspectors is to investigate those old buildings and determine if they are safe for construction workers.
You can learn more about the various roots of cancer by visiting CancerCauses.news.