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Posts Tagged ‘asbestos in Ocean Grove’

This 19th century OG home is getting gutted within and a historic look without. Blogfinger photo 8/23/17.    Restoration by Sawbucks. © Click for enlargement.

Close-up of siding. Blogfinger photo. © 8/23/17. Click for details

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

Grovers like to find out about the history of their homes.  The most interesting houses are those that were built from the time of the founding (1869) up to the turn of the last century.  When work is done on an old house in town, some fascinating findings can turn up.

When we gutted our 1880  kitchen, we found a hidden winding staircase.  It seems that the way to get to the second floor was to climb that staircase which began in the kitchen.   Then that part of the stair case was buried when the home was turned into a duplex, and the front door was relocated. You can still see a turning portion of the stairs if you look up while walking down to the basement. As most of you know, the HPC has no interest in the interior of our homes  (thank goodness.)

One of the most common findings relates to the siding. The original siding was wood shingles or clapboard which was later often covered over with asbestos shingles or, even later, with vinyl or aluminum.  Evidently, some of that wood siding was in good condition, and it was buried, much like the treasures in Tut’s Tomb.

Now, as new owners  seek to  restore an authentic historic look, there is great interest in the original siding as it is unveiled by workmen.  The HPC encourages that sort of archeology, and sometimes the old siding is still very beautiful and useful.

Today, some workmen showed up from New Egypt.  They are specialists in asbestos removal.    I asked the foreman about his long commute to work from Africa, but evidently there is a NJ town with that name near Fort Dix.   They worked very carefully to remove the asbestos-laden shingles. The workers spread large black plastic sheets all over and they wore special suits and ventilator masks.  He said that the most worrisome aspect of the removal process is not the shingle removal, but the dust under the shingles.  The crew was very careful because they understand the risks and the historic significance of protecting the wood underneath.

We shut the windows adjacent to the alley and front walls where they were working and we decided to use the back door exclusively for now. This process should take a few days.  They did not recommend any respiratory protection for us, because the asbestos is trapped within the shingles which they remove in one piece as much as possible.  The foreman said that only about 15% of the shingle material is actually asbestos.

One of the workmen was smoking a cigarette while taking a break.  Asbestos and cigarettes are a lethal combination.

I can remember Mt. Sinai Hospital, New York City  during my medical residency in the late “60’s where I met Dr. Irving Selikoff whose pioneering work on the health risks of asbestos helped turn the tide of that material’s use in construction.  He used to show us chest xray’s of asbestos workers who had heavy exposures, for example in ship yards.  Asbestos is a carcinogen, and the biggest risk is for lung cancer (mesothelioma.) Many law suits ensued over the years after that discovery.  Below is a quote from the Mt. Sinai  web site:

“Because of its hazards to human health, virtually all new use of asbestos has ceased in the United States. A combination of government regulation and market pressures brought about the end of asbestos. These actions stemmed in large part from the landmark studies on asbestos conducted at Icahn School of Medicine   (Mt. Sinai)  by the late Dr. Irving J. Selikoff and his colleagues.”

asbestos_house_diagram (1)

Asbestos.com

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