Portsmouth, New Hampshire - The lobby of the Portsmouth, New Hampshire police station was shut down over the weekend after construction workers found the floor tiles contained asbestos. Though the Portsmouth police station lobby was briefly closed, the scare did not limit official business.
Specifically, the floor tile adhesive contained asbestos.
Construction workers found the asbestos floor tiles during renovation work in the lobby on Saturday and immediately secured the area, preventing anyone from entering the area. Promptly asbestos abatement or decontamination of the area began.
As a designated project within the city of Portsmouth Capital Improvement Plan, the renovation to the lobby of the Portsmouth police station includes new carpet installation, display cases and a LED television for public announcement purposes.
The Portsmouth police station is located in the Municipal Complex that dates back to the 1950s during the heyday of asbestos use. For buildings of this era, finding asbestos is a frequent occurrence.
Sargent Kuffer Kaltenborn of the Portsmouth police department said that though the decontamination of the lobby took around four hours, closing off the area did not impact or impede police department business. Further, Portsmouth police department employees and visitors were informed of the hazard and were directed to another entrance.
As of Monday morning, however, a strong and overpowering odor emanated from the lobby, resulting from the asbestos abatement and decontamination process, making it difficult for some of the employees of the Portsmouth police station and other civic departments to work. It is unclear how long the lobby will be closed or when the renovation can start up again.
The rapid and professional response to the asbestos by the construction workers prevented a widespread health hazard. Asbestos is a carcinogen or a cancer-causing toxin. However, asbestos is only dangerous when it is disturbed, and often when it is disturbed it is because the mineral was not recognized. Disturbed asbestos send microscopic particles into the air, making it easier for those in the area to breath it in. Breathing in asbestos does lead to mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer that can affect the lining of the lungs, heart or abdominal cavity.
Kaltenborn likened the discovery of the asbestos floor tiles as “a minor inconvenience.”