After several days of worry about exposure to asbestos while working at their jobs in the Oak Ridge Federal Building, Tennessee State employees have learned that they were most likely not exposed to any dangerous dust and debris.
According to an article in the Knoxville News Sentinel, results from last Friday’s air testing have been reviewed and it has been determined that the air is clear of asbestos. The findings, announced by a representative from the General Services Agency, were confirmed by experts from the U.S. Public Health Service and the Department of Energy (DOE). The offices of the latter are located in the building and most of the workers thought to be in danger work for the DOE.
The building was shut down at the beginning of last week when pieces of asbestos insulation came loose and were found in the heating and air conditioning system’s duct work. There was fear that as air circulated through the system, asbestos dust would be released into the air, where fibers could be inhaled by workers. Exposure to such fibers can cause lung diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma cancer.
Experts have now recommended asbestos abatement for the entire building, which is about 42 years old. Johnathan Sitzlar, GSA’s supervisory property manager, confirmed that “insulation materials that were glued to the metal duct work decades ago have begun to come loose and are starting to fall.” Removal would be necessary to prevent additional mishaps.
In the meantime, the employees who work at the federal building have been reassigned to several different locations and will most likely stay at those locations until the asbestos removal is completed.