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Hotel fire sends asbestos dust into the air

It should be no surprise to property owners that asbestos is commonly found in several different areas of many different buildings. For decades, the toxic fiber was used as an inexpensive way to insulate and fire-proof materials used in office buildings and homes in North Carolina and across the country. While asbestos may not present an immediate health hazard to people when it is intact, it can be very damaging if it is disturbed and asbestos dust is released into the air.

That is why property owners are expected to comply with regulations that govern safe asbestos practices. Whether it is covered up or removed using certified abatement specialists, there are steps that responsible property owners are expected to take in order to protect people inside and near the building from being exposed to asbestos. Failure to do this could end up putting many lives in danger.

Even though asbestos may not present an immediate hazard to people, there are no guarantees that a relatively safe environment will stay the same. Take, for example, a recent incident in another state involving an historic building, a fire and a serious asbestos problem.

Reports indicate that it was a known fact that an old hotel contained high levels of asbestos in everything from the floor tiles to the plaster in the walls. No action had previously been taken to remove the asbestos, as it was not believed to present an immediate hazard.

But recently, a fire broke out and destroyed the hotel, leaving broken pieces of plaster crumbling and asbestos being released into the air. Efforts to demolish the building and wet down the dust before the asbestos could do more harm are underway, but there is still a long way to go in cleaning up the area to make it safe.

Rather than wait until a catastrophic event forces their hand, property owners may want to seriously consider taking steps to remove asbestos from a building sooner rather than later. Those who choose not to do this could end up facing a premises liability lawsuit if negligence contributes to people suffering from the devastating illnesses linked to asbestos exposure.

Source: The Porterville Recorder, "Hotel has significant asbestos," Kelli Ballard, Feb. 5, 2014

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