In Great Falls, Montana, fears related to asbestos exposure have forced the closure of the Great Falls Job Service office. The asbestos was believed to have been released during ongoing renovation work at the building where the job service office is housed. The asbestos was apparently located behind a ceiling that was cut into by workers carrying out the remodeling. As a precautionary measure, the heating system and airflow were cut off in order to prevent any asbestos fibers released into the air from traveling throughout the building.
It has been well documented over the last several decades that asbestos exposure is linked to the development of mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer. Mesothelioma affects less than 3,000 Americans each year. The disease typically lies dormant for up to fifty years before an individual begins to suffer from mesothelioma symptoms, and the majority of patients lose their battle with this cancer in less than two years following diagnosis. Sadly, the disease is incurable, although some patients have success in battling mesothelioma when they undergo chemo or other treatments.
Workforce Services administrator Mike Cooney said, “We want to ensure the public and our workers safety, so we are closing the office for the rest of the afternoon to give the construction crew a chance to work on the issue. We plan to open tomorrow morning, but are asking the public to call before coming down in the event we haven’t been cleared to open."
The incident occurred last Thursday, and the office has since reopened. It has not yet been reported what, if any, risks to human health may have occurred.