Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals used commercially for their desirable physical properties. It became increasingly popular among builders in the late 19th century because of its sound absorption, average tensile strength, resistance to fire, heat, electrical and chemical damage, and affordability. Through much of the 20th century, it was used in such applications as electrical insulation for hotplate wiring and in building insulation. However, it had been restricted or banned in many jurisdictions because prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious illnesses, such as malignant lung cancer.

Statistics indicate that most people who develop mesothelioma have worked in jobs where they inhaled or ingested asbestos fibers, or were exposed to airborne asbestos dust and fibers in other ways. Washing clothes of a family member who worked with asbestos also creates a risk for developing mesothelioma.

The properties in question include 1504 North Myrtle Avenue (1), 253 East 2nd Street (2), 129 East 2nd Street (3), 1630 Ionia Street (4) and 1477 Evergreen Avenue (5).

Making matters worse is an allegation that the contractor charged the City of Jacksonville for a “wet” demolition, while not following National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPS) regulations. Captured in a video of the demolition of 129 East 2nd Street, it appears a small garden hose connected to a neighbor’s water spigot was used by the demolition contractor to “adequately wet” the asbestos laden structure.

This isn’t the first time the MCCD has been in violation of improper Asbestos removal. According to a Metro Jacksonville forum discussion on the topic, 2011 records indicate the MCCD had been cited for Asbestos violations on as much as 109 properties, dating back to 2007.

The demolition of 1630 Ionia Street included the removal of 1950s Asbestos shingle siding. This material is a well known danger because it releases carcinogenic airborne asbestos fibers when shattered.

Considering the lion’s share of these illegal demolitions have taken place in minority neighborhoods, some believe this is just another form of Environmental Racism. According to Greenaction.org, “Environmental racism refers to the institutional rules, regulations, policies or government and/or corporate decisions that deliberately target certain communities for locally undesirable land uses and lax enforcement of zoning and environmental laws, resulting in communities being disproportionately exposed to toxic and hazardous waste based upon race. Environmental racism is caused by several factors, including intentional neglect, the alleged need for a receptacle for pollutants in urban areas, and a lack of institutional power and low land values of people of color. It is a well-documented fact that communities of color and low-income communities are disproportionately impacted by polluting industries (and very specifically, hazardous waste facilities) and lax regulation of these industries.”

Visit Metro Jacksonville’s forum for the latest updates on this evolving story.

This video illustrates how to properly remove Asbestos.

City of Jacksonville demolishes ANOTHER historic home - 253 East 2nd Street

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