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Asbestos often found in historic buildings

If you live or work in a building that was built before the 1980s, chances are pretty good that it was built with products containing asbestos. The fiber is often found in roofs, tiling, insulation or plumbing systems in older structures because it was an inexpensive, strong material used for its fireproofing qualities.

However, many people do not know that a building contains asbestos or want to deal with it until a construction, renovation or demolition project is planned or underway. At that point, it is essential that the appropriate steps are taken to have the asbestos safely removed and disposed of. This is what is currently happening at the historic Gracie Mansion in New York City.

According to reports, the 200-year-old building's roof, which was only 30 years old, contains asbestos. Until now, nothing was done to have it removed, and evidently, there is no reason to believe it posed a threat to anyone's safety.

However, over the years, the roof has deteriorated and started leaking so the decision was made to replace it. That was when the asbestos was discovered. Now, instead of just replacing a leaky roof, trained asbestos workers will need to remove the contaminated roofing materials and make sure they are disposed of properly. The cost of removing the asbestos is estimated be about $250,000.

In similar situations around North Carolina, there are some property owners who choose or have chosen to try and get around the added work and costs associated with properly removing asbestos. They may just try to ignore it or they may hire people to complete a construction, renovation or demolition job without telling them about the asbestos. In either case, the health of workers, residents and visitors to the property could be put in danger.

While many property owners are responsible and will do what is being done at the Gracie Mansion, there are plenty of other people who would rather cut corners. Those in the latter group can and should be held responsible for the damages suffered as a result of their negligence.

Source: Associated Press, "Asbestos discovered in Gracie Mansion roof," April 9, 2015

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