After an inspection uncovered asbestos in floor tiles, Dallas Fire Station 57 closed until more testing was conducted. The personnel in Fire Station 57 were allowed to return to the building after the Dallas Office of Environmental Quality and Office of Risk Management determined that there was no risk from this asbestos as it was deemed non-friable (non-hazardous) and in good condition. Fire Station 56 is another older station and is undergoing extensive testing. An anonymous source claimed that both stations not only had asbestos, but excessive mold, rat infestation, and extreme foundation damage.
Older buildings and asbestos
A Dallas spokesman, Richard Hill, spoke to the Dallas Observer saying, “The safety of our employees is the number one priority of the city of Dallas. Building materials, including floor tiles constructed before asbestos regulations, do not automatically pose a health risk, if the materials are deemed to be in good condition and non-friable.” While asbestos that is undisturbed is not an immediate threat, any asbestos is hazardous if the fibers can be airborne.
After many years of use, asbestos-containing floor tiles, ceiling tiles, insulation, and other building materials can deteriorate or become damaged. Once damage occurs, asbestos fibers can be released into the air and inhaled by anyone exposed.
Asbestos use and dangers
Asbestos has many unique qualities that led to its widespread use. It is fire and heat resistant, is flexible, strong, and can be incorporated into many materials. Unfortunately, the mineral has a Jekyll and Hyde personality. During its mining and manufacturing stages the fibers can become airborne. This also happens during renovations or damages involving asbestos products. The fibers, when inhaled, can implant in the lungs causing diseases such as lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma, currently a terminal disease.
When found, asbestos is not at do-it-yourself removal project. A certified asbestos abatement company should be called in for testing and removal if the building was constructed before 1980 and suspected asbestos materials are damaged or may be disturbed in a planned renovation or teardown.