Asbestos was discovered during the Mill Run project in Levittown, Pennsylvania while construction continued turning the building into a mixed-use assisted care living center with offices. The building was a five-story, 77,000-square-foot medical facility.
“There’s no asbestos in that building that is going to come out and attack anybody,” said Director of the Bucks County Redevelopment Authority (RDA), Bob White, at the Bristol Borough’s Council meeting last Monday.
The health risks associated with exposure to asbestos can lead to the deadly mesothelioma cancer. When the hazardous substance becomes worn or damaged, such as during construction, the fibers may flake off and become airborne. Anyone in the vicinity who inhales the toxic fibers could get them embedded in his or her chest.
More specifically, as the fibers in the dust are inhaled through the mouth and nose, they are cleared from the body by adhering to mucus in the nose, throat, and airways, and then get expelled by coughing or swallowing.
The long and thin fibers do not clear as easily, and are therefore thought to become embedded in the linings of the lungs, chest, or stomach causing scarring and inflammation, which leads to mesothelioma cancer.
The actual asbestos was found in the tile binding in the basement and anonymously reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The project was put on hold and now public grants are being filed to fund removing the asbestos.
Regulations call for any materials contaminated with asbestos to be removed wet and sealed (while still wet) in leak-tight containers with the correct warning labels. Anywhere that asbestos work might occur has to be sealed off and air filtration equipment used during the abatement process.
These requirements ensure asbestos fibers are not released into the environment so building occupants and the general public are not exposed to the hazardous material. This also prevents other parts of the building from becoming contaminated.
Last year, the Mill Run project received Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance via approval of the council, school board, and county.
According to the project’s attorney, Mike Hollister, the proper asbestos abatement licenses have been applied for. Since the licenses are being taken care of early, occupants can be accepted when the building is complete.