In a true example of just how far asbestos fibers can travel through the air, officials in Baltimore have found asbestos dust on the exterior of a Holiday Inn that is located across a busy road from where a steam pipe burst more than a week ago.
Though officials from the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) say that the air in the vicinity of the steam pipe blast tests normal, the side of the hotel has been contaminated with the toxic material, reports an article in the Baltimore Sun.
Specifically, the MDE said they found asbestos fibers in the building’s stucco and noted that it can’t really be cleaned.
The department recommended workers “erect a scaffolding and shroud to remediate the problem,” said MDE spokesman Jay Apperson. That’s to keep the asbestos contained and prevent it from becoming airborne once again.
The local CBS station interviewed individuals who were staying at the Holiday Inn for their input on the situation. Many had no idea about last week’s steam pipe explosion and were shocked to hear about the asbestos, which likely did not reach the interior of the hotel.
Yeah, that’s concerning,” said Gilgamesh Taggett, who was staying at the Holiday Inn though recently checked out. He told reporters that he thought he was sleeping next door to street construction and had no idea why the streets near the hotel were blocked off…and no one saw fit to tell him.
“My father had asbestos poisoning from working construction when he was younger, so it’s quite shocking,” Taggett said, expressing his dismay.
The Department of the Environment also reported that 33 cars were affected by the explosion and that four of those tested positive for asbestos. Some have already been totaled due to that contamination. Others remain behind the caution tape that’s been in place for a week now.
In a statement to the press, a DE spokesperson said:
“It is important to note that it is when asbestos fibers are released into the air that they become a health hazard… Perimeter air monitoring continues, and we have been told it shows no evidence of asbestos.”
In the meantime, anyone who was in the vicinity of the explosion could have been contaminated when the pipe insulation was ripped into shreds and distributed through the air.
Cars, buildings, and other items near the blast should be approached with caution so as to avoid exposure.