Asbestos World Watch for January 21st, 2009

In GLASGOW, SCOTLAND, 56 rooms in the historic Quality Central Hotel were closed after a discovery of asbestos. City council environmental health officers conducted a routine inspection of the hotel and promptly issued a prohibition upon finding the toxin in 56 of the 222 total rooms. The health officers also found asbestos in a pipe and fire escape.
The prohibition was issued because the health officers felt that the asbestos they found could pose a threat to people nearby. Asbestos is largely harmless if it remains intact, but should it be disturbed, it can break off into particles and small fibers. These fibers can be inhaled by people who could develop, decades later, any of several asbestos-related diseases. It was only two years prior, in 2006, that the Quality Central Hotel underwent a £3-million refurbishment. Apparently, the asbestos was not found during those renovations. Action must be taken immediately, and the hotel has two options from which to choose: remove the asbestos or encapsulate it.

Any work done must be approved by the health officers. In EASTBOURNE, UK, the Crouch Recreation Ground football stand was found during its demolition to contain asbestos. As soon as the asbestos was found, the site was shuttered and a specialist was called in to begin to assess the situation. The expert began work with contractors at site. Additionally, the Health and Safety Executive was notified and they immediately took tests of the air quality in the area. Removal of the asbestos required it to be handled by trained workers wearing protective clothing who bag the material for disposal at a designated site for toxic substances. During the removal, the workers noted that the asbestos was used to fill parts of the football stand, but it was not packed very tightly or all the way through the stand. Luckily for the workers, the asbestos has remained intact during its removal. Should it have been broken into fibers and particles, the asbestos could have been inhaled where it lies in wait for decades before it emerges again as asbestosis or mesothelioma. The professional demolition contractors had encountered similar situations in the past, and they had been trained to deal with it by informing the proper authorities in order to allow experts to remove the asbestos and test the air. Since the demolition crew followed the correct procedures, those using the site in the future will have no fear of being exposed to the deadly asbestos.