DEQ warns NW Portland residents about possible asbestos exposure - KPTV - FOX 12

DEQ warns NW Portland residents about possible asbestos exposure

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Health and safety concerns are growing in northwest Portland after the Department of Environmental Quality says agents have uncovered asbestos on fallen debris from a huge warehouse fire.

The DEQ says asbestos may have spread two miles on each side of the Willamette River. They want to warn people living in the surrounding areas that just because you don't see it, doesn't mean it's not there.

There was no hope in saving the warehouse that erupted in flames Sunday night. DEQ workers said inside the warehouse was synthetic materials, which is why the fire grew so big, so fast.

Now days later, the fire is out but clean up crews are just beginning to address another, more widespread concern.

"The Oregon DEQ became aware of windblown debris possibly containing asbestos on Monday and began investigating and responding that day," said Keith Johnson, Program Manager at Oregon DEQ.

On Thursday, the DEQ put up signs in northwest Portland warning people not to touch any debris they find.

"Because it's windblown and ashen, if you touch it, it will crumble into dust immediately which could increase your exposure to the asbestos," said Johnson.

According to the DEQ, exposure to asbestos could have long-term effects like lung cancer or mesothelioma, another type of cancer, according to health professionals, that affects the thin lining of your organs.

Justin Franzino says he knows first hand what the long-term effects can do.

"My brother worked for Raybestos, an asbestos company. They said in 30 years you're gonna have mesothelioma. You know, you see the ads on TV and sure enough, he got it and he died," said Franzino.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the DEQ are working fast to decrease those ricks.

If you live in an area where you think you've come across it, do not touch it. Make sure to wash your pets feet and your child's hands. More importantly, spread the word to others.

With warmer temperatures on the way, the DEQ says there are increased chances of asbestos becoming airborne, so they will continue to test the air quality.

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