Telluride, CO—The courthouse in Colorado’s San Miguel County is scheduled to undergo asbestos abatement as part of a larger renovation program.
The building, which is an historic one, was originally built in 1885, but was nearly destroyed by a fire in 1887. Some of the bricks were salvaged and used in the construction of the current two-story courthouse building.
While preparing for the planned renovations, workers discovered the presence of asbestos in the building. Subsequently, other areas of the building – including the floor tiles, ceiling tiles, hallways and basement – were tested and discovered to have high levels of asbestos.
Asbestos is a mineral which occurs naturally and which is useful in building construction because of its light weight, its flexibility, its strength and its resistance to chemical and biological processes. It is heatproof and a fire retardant, and as such is often used in insulation.
When the asbestos fibers become airborne, however – which happens when the asbestos-containing material is disturbed in any way – they constitute a hazard. Airborne asbestos fibers can be breathed in by workers or bystanders, and get lodged in the body’s soft tissues. They then can lead to deadly diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis.
A state-certified asbestos-management company will oversee the courthouse abatement process, and a state-certified asbestos contractor will actually perform the work. In order to perform the asbestos abatement, workers will need to be outfitted with special protective clothing and respirators. Additionally, strict protocols must be followed regarding the disposal of any asbestos-containing materials.
Officials say that there is no danger to neighboring structures or residents of the area. The work, which begins later this month, is expected to be completed in June.