Several hundred individuals that work for the Idaho Department of Labor received an unexpected administrative leave last Friday afternoon when their building was evacuated and they were sent home due to the discovery of dangerous asbestos dust inside the facility.
The Idaho Statesman newspaper reported that the building at 317 W. Main Street in downtown Boise will remain closed indefinitely. Asbestos fibers were discovered after a crew of construction workers worked on the building’s geothermal system Thursday evening. The next morning, Idaho Department of Labor officials reported finding some sort of white powder near the construction zone and, after testing, they determined that the powder was indeed asbestos. The fourth floor employees were immediately evacuated and then the remainder of the building was ordered closed as well.
Bob Fick, Department of Labor spokesperson, reported that employees who work inside the contaminated building will likely remain on leave until the amount of asbestos in the building can be determined and until the department figures out the specifics of asbestos clean-up or abatement so that it is safe for all to return.
There was no word as to what kinds of materials caused the dust to form, but in buildings of similar age, asbestos was often used in items such as insulation of various sorts, floor and ceiling tiles, drywall tape and other adhesives, cement, and a variety of other construction products. It is necessary to protect individuals from asbestos exposure as inhaling the mineral can lead to serious lung problems including mesothelioma, a cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart.