Buffalo, NY—The popular television reality show “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” is not only helping a Buffalo family get a remodeled home, but also saving them from the risk of the deadly asbestos cancer mesothelioma. The home belonging to Delores Powell and her four children has been contaminated with asbestos, a once-common building and insulating material which has become known as a hazardous carcinogen. Powell had purchased the six-bedroom “fixer-upper” in 2003, before learning that the house was actually on the city’s list of properties to be demolished, in part because of the extensive existence of asbestos throughout. Powell approached the city to ask for a waiver of the demolition order, and they agreed to give her the waiver if she could get the house up to code. Although she worked for over five years hanging drywall, building scaffolding, installing windows, and doing other repairs, the house was still barely liveable. Recently, celebrity carpenter Ty Pennington and the entire “Extreme Makeover” team came to town to surprise the family with an early-morning visit to let them know that the house would be professionally rebuilt.
Removal of asbestos-containing materials, or ACMs, must be done by licensed and trained professionals, who are additionally outfitted with proper safety gear including protective clothing and a respirator. If these precautions are not taken, the contractor or other worker runs the risk of inhaling the sharp, needle-like asbestos fibers, which are released into the surrounding air when the ACMs are damaged or demolished. If these fibers enter the body, they can penetrate the lining of the chest and lungs, called the mesothelium, and eventually become malignant. The resulting cancer, mesothelioma, is a rare and particularly stubborn form of cancer which can claim the lives of its victims in as little as a few months after diagnosis. Mesothelioma, which is incurable, is diagnosed in approximately 3,000 new patients in the United States each year. The episode of “Extreme Makeover” which features the Powell family and their home is slated to be aired on ABC some time early in 2010.