9 Investigates: Orlando firefighters exposed to high levels of asbestos

9 Investigates: Orlando firefighters exposed to high levels of asbestos

ORLANDO, Fla. — Some Orlando firefighters were exposed to high levels of cancer-causing asbestos, according to a report.

Environmental Protection officials started investigating in February and said they found 27 pieces of equipment had high levels of asbestos contamination.

They tested 93 pieces of gear, including clothing.

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A report shows some firefighters may have been exposed to 72 times the unacceptable amount of asbestos.

“There is obvious concern after looking at it,” said Wayne Bernoska, vice president of local firefighters’ union 1365.

He said the union will be following up with the firefighters’ health and safety board along with a physician.

“To understand how that will affect the members’ health that is going to be out number one concern,” said Bernoska.

The report found gear that was not exposed to the asbestos came back positive.

The city is working to decontaminate the gear used by the firefighters.

Chief Roderick Williams of the Orlando Fire Department said there are special policies in place for decontaminating gear.

“That police is, after every fire, after every contaminate scene, that you wash your gear, making sure out personnel adhere to our policies that we have established,” said Williams.

9 Investigates discovered in February through a pre-demolition survey that the cancer-causing asbestos was found in an abandoned apartment complex that was being prepped for fire training.

More than a dozen firefighters came in contact with the contaminated tiles and gear.

Ninety-three random sets of gear were sent out to professional service industries for testing. According to the results, every piece of gear had asbestos on it.

The tests show that one pair of pants had 72 times above the acceptable amount of asbestos allowed.

"\ Washing the gear two cycles, the contaminate levels were removed to acceptable normal levels," said Roderick.

According to the chief, the remaining gear will be cleaned at a rate of 50 sets per week.

The firefighters will have to monitor their lungs for years to find out if asbestos affected them