Earlier this week, the Oswego County Department of Social Services in Upstate NY announced that it would be moving out of its current location for approximately 6 months while contractors deal with the removal of hazardous asbestos.
According to a local television news report, asbestos abatement at the department’s headquarters in Mexico, New York should be completed by May 2013. In the meantime, the Social Services offices will move to the location of the former Cayuga Community College in the nearby town of Fulton.
This past March, Oswego County Administrator Philip Church announced that the levels of asbestos in the ceiling tiles in the old building had been reported as higher than the legal limit, putting workers and visitors to the building in danger of inhaling toxic fibers that might be circulating through the air.
Church stressed that if the ceiling tiles remain intact, those working in the vicinity of the tiles are safe from harm. However, any damage or other disturbance may result in the release of airborne fibers. Inhalation of these fibers can eventually cause the development of severe respiratory diseases including lung cancer, mesothelioma cancer, and asbestosis.
The older part of the Department of Social Services building, where the toxic tiles were found, was constructed in 1973. That’s about five years before the government demanded a halt on the use of building materials containing asbestos. Prior to that, thousands of products were manufactured using asbestos as a component, primarily because it proved to be an excellent insulator and also made certain products more durable. It was commonplace for asbestos to be found in not only tiles but also cement, wallboard, pipe and electrical insulation, and a host of other products.