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Mesothelioma News

DEP Fines Couple for Asbestos Violations

Williamsburg, MA – The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued a fine of $9000 against Sallie Swartz and Alan Bernhardt for allegedly violating the regulations concerning asbestos removal during a project conducted at a rental property located at 32 Main St., according to officials.

The property was inspected by DEP officials in 2012 December after they received several complaints from the tenants. The inspectors found that Swartz and Bernhardt had hired somebody to eliminate asbestos insulation from pipes without using the right and legal procedures for the removal and disposal. Additionally, they failed to file the mandatory paperwork with the state DEP, officials say.

Asbestos substances removed from that property were then disposed of illegally at the town transfer station. According to officials, disposal was done by Bernhardt.

Asbestos, a naturally occurring silicate mineral, is a known human carcinogen. Exposure to the material is linked to contraction of cancers such as malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer. Inhalation of asbestos fibers could also result in severe respiratory disorders and devastating conditions such as pleural plaques and asbestosis.

Since the investigation, Swartz and Bernhardt have been cooperating with the Department of Environmental Protection, officials said. The couple hired an authorized contractor for cleaning up the property properly, according to officials.

The original fine issued against Swartz and Bernhardt was $23379. However, the DEP waived $18379 on condition that the couple would abide by the order terms and comply with the state asbestos regulations in the future.

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral occurring in the nature. There different types of asbestos. The common types are white asbestos (Chrysotile) and brown asbestos (Amosite). Asbestos fibres are extremely small and are not visible to the naked eye. It is in fact 700 times smaller than human hair. These minute fibers are very dangerous because they are carcinogenic.

Asbestos has many useful properties. It is an excellent fire- heat- electricity- and corrosion-resistant, and therefore is a very good insulator. It is very cheap as well. For these reasons, despite being a deadly carcinogen, asbestos was added to numerous construction materials and other industrial products.

Regular exposure to asbestos often results in diseases such as asbestosis (a dangerous, chronic, non-cancerous respiratory condition), mesothelioma (a rare type of cancer which most often affects the protective lining of the lungs, chest and abdomen) and lung cancer. Even secondhand exposure to asbestos (such as exposure through work clothes) could result in any of these devastating conditions.