Federal Employees May Have Been Exposed to Asbestos
Several Federal Election Commission (FEC) staffers who worked in a downtown D.C. office building in the 1990s now fear – 20 years later – that they may have been exposed to asbestos during their time at that location.
However, during their tenure at the busy building, they had no idea they might have been in danger.
Indeed, the current and former employees learned of the potential exposure just recently, when they observed an asbestos warning sign on the building where they use to work, which was vacated by the Federal Government this past March and is now under renovation.
The ominous warning sign prompted these employees to contact the National Treasury Employees Union – which represents some of those who once worked in the building – expressing their concerns.
Of course, if asbestos is not disturbed, it causes no harm. However, the employees noted that the old FEC headquarters underwent extensive renovations during the mid-1990s. None of the workers recalls ever being warned about the presence of asbestos during that time and now they fear that the toxin may have reached the areas in which they worked.
“FEC employees and retirees are understandably anxious and deserve a complete accounting of any asbestos-related work that was done during the time the agency was leasing the facility,” National Treasury Employees Union President Tony Reardon told the media.
“Workplace safety is of utmost importance to NTEU and the employees we represent, and we intend to help them get answers to their questions and concerns.”
Officials with the FEC claim that they had no idea that there was a problem with the 9-story building that sits on E Street NW, just across the street from the FBI building.
However, because it was built in 1931, when asbestos use was abundant, it was obvious to most that there was asbestos somewhere inside that structure and that those inside should have been notified of its presence during renovations.
However, there’s no evidence yet that the concerned employees were indeed exposed to airborne asbestos fibers.
Further investigation into the 1990s renovations and any refurbishment completed after that time may help answer any questions about exposure and will hopefully provide peace of mind for the current and former employees.
If, indeed, it appears as if exposure occurred, medical screenings will likely be recommended and the employees may choose to take legal action.