Management of a Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Food Lion grocery store located on So. Kings Highway has voluntarily closed its doors pending the outcome of an asbestos investigation Among the many asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) used in building construction prior to the 1980s were floor tiles and the mastic adhesive used to fix them in place. In February, the store began undergoing renovations that involved replacement of the old floor tiles. Investigators for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Controls (DHEC) are concerned that the process used to remove the tiles may have caused some of the asbestos fibers to become friable, meaning that asbestos dust was released into the air. Myra Reece, who heads the DHEC’s Bureau of Air Quality, said that “The process that was used should have been done in a manner that limits the amount of asbestos released into the air thus protecting the workers, store employees and customers.” According to Reece, any customers or staff members who were in the store between 18 February and 25 March of this year may be at risk for asbestos exposure.
However, Dr. Erik Svendsen, an epidemiologist for the DHEC, suggests there is no reason for panic. Relatively few people who are exposed to asbestos fibers for a brief period will develop lung disease: “While shoppers at the store between Feb. 18 and March 25 could have been exposed, the potential for long term health effects is low,” he said. It is also important to note that while there is some concern over asbestos exposure in this case, the presence of asbestos fibers has not been absolutely established. Nonetheless, some degree of caution is recommended: anyone who was in the store between the dates in question should visit the South Carolina DHEC website if they are concerned about possible exposure to themselves and any products they may have purchased. You can also find many additional facts about asbestos products, their effects on human physiology, and your rights under the law in the main section of Asbestos.net.