SYRACUSE, N.Y.—A basement explosion earlier this month at a private school prompted investigation and concern over possible asbestos exposure and the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. The explosion, which occurred at the Ishan School of Excellence – Syracuse’s only private Islamic school – produced large amounts of white dust and natural gas that spread throughout the building. Further testing revealed the dust contained asbestos, and school officials have shut down the school until further notice. Asbestos is considered a danger, as it can cause the cancer mesothelioma. It has since been determined that the explosion was due to a boiler malfunction and was not intentional. Asbestos, a material once used in almost every building and construction job around the United States, is harmful to the body. When asbestos fibers are released, either because the material has been disturbed or because it is old and deteriorating, they become airborne and easily respirable. When breathed in, these fibers become embedded in the walls of the lungs, and in the lining of the lungs and organs, in a membrane called the mesothelium.
The fibers, unable to be expelled, remain in the body for years, and can cause cell dysfunction. Over time, asbestos fibers can lead to the deadly cancer mesothelioma. The cancer, which does not have a cure, is often diagnosed after it’s reached the later stages of development. This is due to the fact that mesothelioma symptoms that may signal to a patient that something is wrong may not appear for years or even decades. When they do, they have a similar appearance as those of a cold, the flu or pneumonia, and even a doctor may overlook them as well. Many people are unaware that they have been exposed to asbestos in the past, and don’t think of mesothelioma as being a cause for concern. The Ishan School has previously undergone over $500,000 in renovations for improvements not related to asbestos abatement. It has not yet been determined when the school will reopen; classes have resumed at a nearby mosque.