Discovery of Asbestos in Collapsed Arkansas Building Delays Site Cleanup
When asbestos is discovered in a building that is undergoing repairs or demolition work, it can not only pose a health risk to local citizens, but can also hinder cleanup of the facility.
This is exactly what is occurring after two buildings collapsed in Morrilton, Arkansas, in May, killing a toddler and injuring her mother, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
The collapse of the buildings killed 2-year-old Alissa Jones and seriously injured her mother, Erin Coffman, the news source said. Now, the owners of the facilities have agreed to remove the debris from the properties, which is still located on the site.
However, as a result of the discovery of asbestos – a material that was used in a number of older buildings due to its utility as an insulator and resistance to fire – Mayor Stewart Nelson said the cleanup had been delayed.
Nelson told the news source that the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality had decided to order an asbestos inspection after hearing about the piles of debris on the property.
Asbestos Testing Turns Up Positive
When the state Department of Environmental Quality had the asbestos testing completed, five of the 16 samples examined reportedly turned up positive, Dr. J.J. Magie, the owner of one of the buildings told the news provider.
Due to the discovery of the carcinogenic material, the owners are required to hire an asbestos removal contractor to rid the properties of the contamination, and bids are currently being submitted.
Nelson, Morrilton’s mayor, added that the fact that the debris had been on the ground for so long further complicated the contamination.
“ADEQ said the whole (site) was hot because the buildings had been on the ground” for so long, the mayor explained.
Asbestos Exposure Can Prove Deadly Down the Road
While the symptoms may not manifest themselves until decades after initial asbestos exposure, the inhalation of the dangerous mineral fibers has been proven to cause a number of serious illnesses including asbestosis, lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer.
Such diseases are responsible for a significant number of deaths, particularly due to occupational asbestos exposure, as the World Health Organization estimates that the illnesses kill approximately 107,000 people worldwide each year.