Flooding Cleanup in North Dakota Leaves Residents Vulnerable to Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos Exposure & Bans
Reading Time: 2 mins
Publication Date: 08/01/2011
Fact Checked
Our fact-checking process begins with a thorough review of all sources to ensure they are high quality. Then we cross-check the facts with original medical or scientific reports published by those sources, or we validate the facts with reputable news organizations, medical and scientific experts and other health experts. Each page includes all sources for full transparency.

Asbestos.com is the nation’s most trusted mesothelioma resource

The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com has provided patients and their loved ones the most updated and reliable information on mesothelioma and asbestos exposure since 2006.

Our team of Patient Advocates includes a medical doctor, a registered nurse, health services administrators, veterans, VA-accredited Claims Agents, an oncology patient navigator and hospice care expert. Their combined expertise means we help any mesothelioma patient or loved one through every step of their cancer journey.

More than 30 contributors, including mesothelioma doctors, survivors, health care professionals and other experts, have peer-reviewed our website and written unique research-driven articles to ensure you get the highest-quality medical and health information.

About The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com

  • Assisting mesothelioma patients and their loved ones since 2006.
  • Helps more than 50% of mesothelioma patients diagnosed annually in the U.S.
  • A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
  • 5-star reviewed mesothelioma and support organization.
Learn More About Us


"My family has only the highest compliment for the assistance and support that we received from The Mesothelioma Center. This is a staff of compassionate and knowledgeable individuals who respect what your family is experiencing and who go the extra mile to make an unfortunate diagnosis less stressful. Information and assistance were provided by The Mesothelioma Center at no cost to our family."
Mesothelioma patient’s daughter
  • Google Review Rating
  • BBB Review Rating

How to Cite Asbestos.com’s Article


Povtak, T. (2020, October 16). Flooding Cleanup in North Dakota Leaves Residents Vulnerable to Asbestos Exposure. Asbestos.com. Retrieved October 6, 2022, from https://www.asbestos.com/news/2011/08/01/flooding-cleanup-in-north-dakota-leaves-residents-vulnerable-to-asbestos-exposure/


Povtak, Tim. "Flooding Cleanup in North Dakota Leaves Residents Vulnerable to Asbestos Exposure." Asbestos.com, 16 Oct 2020, https://www.asbestos.com/news/2011/08/01/flooding-cleanup-in-north-dakota-leaves-residents-vulnerable-to-asbestos-exposure/.


Povtak, Tim. "Flooding Cleanup in North Dakota Leaves Residents Vulnerable to Asbestos Exposure." Asbestos.com. Last modified October 16, 2020. https://www.asbestos.com/news/2011/08/01/flooding-cleanup-in-north-dakota-leaves-residents-vulnerable-to-asbestos-exposure/.

The flood waters have receded and help is arriving, but the danger still lurks — albeit silent and slow — in places like Minot, North Dakota.

The North Dakota Department of Health is warning residents, and those volunteers who are coming this week to help with the cleanup, that the presence of asbestos and the dangers it presents should not be taken lightly.

The calamitous spring flooding, which led to costs reaching an estimated $1 billion throughout the state, left behind a massive project that includes the gutting of homes and businesses before the rebuilding can begin.

Cleanup and Asbestos Exposure

The cleanup, particularly for structures built before 1990, can be harmful to those nearby if the proper precautions are not taken. Officials issued the warning late in July after seeing the asbestos-laced debris being left curbside by residents.

Most obvious was the vermiculite insulation being haphazardly removed from attics and walls that were damaged by the flood. Asbestos also is prevalent inside flooring, duct work, framed walls and concrete block.

Exposure to the asbestos fibers, which are microscopic and often inhaled, can lead to mesothelioma cancer.

According to a press release from the North Dakota Department of Health, much of the vermiculite being found came from the mines in Libby, Montana, which were closed in 1990 after many cases of asbestos exposure were traced there.

The warning, which was backed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, encourages residents to use professional contractors, which have the knowledge and equipment to safely handle the asbestos removal. Only commercial buildings and multi-family residences of four or more units require licensed professionals to handle the abatement.

DIY Asbestos Removal Poses Health Risks

Residents of single-family homes have the option of doing the work themselves, which could be a dangerous undertaking. Asbestos becomes especially troublesome when it begins to crumble, fray, tear or becomes brittle.

According to the Bismarck Tribune, more than 4,000 homes were flooded in the Minot area, primarily because of the Souris River, which flows from Canada to north central North Dakota. And many homes still need to be gutted before mold develops. Buses filled with volunteers from Bismarck will be arriving throughout the week.

Among the recommendations:

  • When handling material containing asbestos, you should wear gloves, goggles and a HEPA respirator.
  • Asbestos materal should be handled while wet or damp, doubled bagged and properly labeled.
  • Tape off rooms being gutted with plastic sheeting to prevent contaminating other areas of the home. Keep the insulation damp to prevent spreading dust.
  • Keep windows open for ventilation and wipe up all dust and debris using wet cleaning methods.
  • Temporarily move family members (especially children and pregnant women) out of the home until the work is complete.
Free Mesothelioma Resources
Get Access to Free Resources for Patients & Loved Ones