Portsmouth, New Hampshire - The Portsmouth, New Hampshire Police Station had to temporarily close a portion of its building over the weekend when contractors working in the lobby discovered that there was asbestos in the floor tiles and the adhesive underneath them.
An article in the online edition of the Portsmouth Herald reported that several workers conducting a lobby renovation project over the weekend discovered the toxic material, prompting them to seal off the lobby, preventing the public as well as all city workers from entering the area.
Details of the situation were reported by Sgt. Kuffer Kaltenborn, a spokesperson for the department. The sergeant confirmed that the lobby had to be sealed off from the remainder of the building for about four hours, and it was also necessary to set up a decontamination station to rid anyone of toxic asbestos fibers which may have gathered on their clothes or body as a result of exposure to the material in and under the floor tiles.
Signs were also posted to notify employees of the presence of the asbestos, said Kaltenborn, who noted that the discovery only slightly hampered the goings on at the police station. This included having to use a secondary entrance to enter and exit the building in order to avoid exposure to the material, which is known to cause asbestosis and cancer.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire Public Works Director Steve Parkinson reported that there’s an abundance of asbestos at the city’s Municipal Complex, which includes not only the police station but also City Hall, school administrative offices, and the headquarters of other nonprofit organizations. The buildings were constructed in 1950 during an era when asbestos was used in the manufacture of a variety of building materials, including t ile adhesive. Many buildings from that time period still contain asbestos, though the material is safe as long as it remains in good condition and is not disturbed, experts point out.