A week after the November 18, 2008, explosion on Union Avenue in Southern Colorado, residents of the area were allowed to return home, but fears and concerns remain. The possibility that the explosion sent deadly asbestos fibers into the air resulted in Federal health officials taking action to do air quality testing. As the residents were settling into their homes, the results of those tests were still outstanding. Asbestos fibers and particles have devastating effects. The inhalation of these can lead to the development of many forms of lung cancer including the often terminal mesothelioma and a scarring of the lungs known as asbestosis .
These diseases can take decades before they are diagnosed. This results in many downplaying the effects of asbestos on the body since its consequences are long term rather than immediate. Environmental Health Director, Heather Maio, noted that the possibility of asbestos fibers lingering in the air a week after the explosion was slight: “Asbestos fibers may have been contained in some of that smoke, its possible. We’re not positive, but that would have gone off and drifted away during the first few hours during that explosion.” Some of the residents of the area, such as Kylee McKenzie are not willing to take any chances. McKenzie is fifteen weeks pregnant, and she is concerned about exposing her child to asbestos while he is still in the womb. She made an appointment to visit her physician the day after being allowed back to her home. Any evidence from either the air quality tests or her doctor would send McKenzie to stay with her parents. The air quality test results were used to provide advice and health recommendations to residents of the Union Avenue area.