Residents of Catonsville want bigger answers from the state of Maryland regarding asbestos hazards as a natural rock formation appeared in the middle of a construction site. Neighbors are not only worried about their health, but are growing even more concerned about state and county regulations regarding the rock’s removal.
Why such a fuss about a rock? As it turns out this rock is asbestos. Exposure to airborne asbestos can lead to illnesses such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma, a terminal cancer, the construction company working on the site was crushing the rock, sending asbestos into the air.
Enterprise Homes, the company performing the crushing, immediately stopped operations and willingly tested nearby homes for asbestos, but it is the state’s failures that have residents really upset. It is under question to many residents if the state of Maryland has adopted the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act that would deal with situations such as these. AHERA has multiple requirements, including inspecting known asbestos-containing materials every three years, maintaining up-to-date asbestos management plans and training custodial staff in handling the mineral. Many residents believe there are no county or state regulations to deal with asbestos exposure, but that federal standards should have been followed. The Maryland Department of the Environment expressed in a Hometown Annapolis article that there is not a need to mandate asbestos handling guidelines for companies like Enterprise when they are willing to cooperate and make efforts to remedy the situation.
Construction at the site in Catonsville has resumed, although the asbestos rock is no longer being crushed. Neighbors are left to deal with dust and residue from the site on their homes and in their yards. Although they are being told the residue has been tested and does not contain asbestos, many are still uncertain. There is no doubt that residents hope that state and local jurisdiction will come up with an action plan to deal with similar situations in the future.