Mesothelioma a Risk for Ohio County Land Buyers

County commissioners in Trumbull County, Ohio, are trying to find a buyer for 44 acres of vacant property. The land, once used as a nursing home, now sits empty. Officials want someone to buy and develop it, but they face a problem: asbestos contamination, which may cause the asbestos cancer called mesothelioma.
Contamination has been an issue for the site before. In 2005, the land did not sell because of leftover relics from when the site had been host to an Army barracks in the 1950s. Underground fuel tanks that leaked gasoline and oil into the ground were a concern that kept buyers away. However, director of the Trumbull County Planning Commission, Trish Nuskievicz, said the tanks were removed in the 1990s. “It became a non-issue,” she said. However, buildings from a former nursing home still remain on the site. This is where today’s contamination problem lies. Because of the age of the buildings, and processes in place when it was built, it’s believed that the walls, insulation, ceiling tiles, and other areas contain asbestos, a hazardous fiber found in minerals throughout the world. Asbestos, which was used throughout the twentieth century in building materials, insulators, and thousands of household goods, was known as a wonder material because of its strength, durability, and resistance to heat, fire, and electricity. However, when breathed in, the carcinogenic fibers become lodged in the membrane that lines the lungs, potentially causing the cancer mesothelioma. Malignant mesothelioma is a rare but aggressive cancer caused almost exclusively by asbestos exposure: 90% of cases can be traced to specific instances of exposure, and it is believed the remaining 10% are also believed to be due to exposure, though these instances are improvable. Still, the county believes it will find its buyer. Says Commissioner Daniel Polivka, “It has a lot of things to offer. It’s a nice piece of property that can be developed.