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"How Dangerous Is Asbestos From The Steam Pipe Explosion In New York?" - James Glanz

  • The New York Times
  • New York, NY
  • (July 20, 2018)

The authorities detected asbestos in steam pouring from the pipe that ruptured in Manhattan’s Flatiron district on Thursday, raising concerns about a substance that can cause a number of severe health problems, including lung cancer. Chronic exposure to asbestos – often over years or decades – is the real danger, medical experts said, so the health risks of the steam pipe exposure should be small. Asbestos is a natural material, a mineral drug from mines. It consists of countless tiny fibers that are physically durable and resistant to heat, acid and fire. Those tiny fibers are what can make asbestos dangerous, especially when they become airborne. “They’re shaped like little tiny daggers,” said Philip Landrigan, MD, MSc, professor of environmental medicine and public health and dean for global health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who has studied the effects of asbestos for many years. When the fibers are inhaled, Dr. Landrigan said, “they can penetrate into the lung tissue and can stay there for many years.”

- Philip Landrigan, MD, MSc, Professor, Environmental Medicine and Public Health, Pediatrics, Dean for Global Health, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

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