Pocatello – Concerns regarding possible asbestos dust have indefinitely closed Pocatello Senior Citizen Centre housed in the Bonneville Community Centre. Emergency closure of the center came into effect at 11 AM on Wednesday.
Samples of the materials collected inside the centre would be sent for analysis shortly. Lynn Transtrom, the supervisor of the building, said that the results would come back in 3 days.
Transtrom says he strongly believes asbestos had been used in heating ducts and that the material is starting breaking down. The centre was constructed in the 1950s when asbestos was an extensively-used building material. Further additions were made in the 1960. The building belongs to the Pocatello City.
Transtrom said they used massive amounts of asbestos material those days.
Jerilynn Mecham, the Senior Citizen Centre manager, said she found white dust near one of the heating vents in the centre a few days back and contacted a janitor. She says the janitor confirmed that the suspicious white dust was turning out to be more prevalent.
Mecham said it seemed like sheet rock dust. She said she had been puzzled and felt she had to bring that up with Transtrom.
Transtrom received a call from Jerilynn Mecham on Tuesday and investigation was made on Wednesday. Then he removed one of the vent grids and pulled off a fibrous material piece which was generating plenty of dust from the duct. The find was discussed with the legal department of the city. After the discussion, Transtrom said they had decided to close down the centre at once.
Transtrom said they do not prefer taking any chances.
If the centre has to be closed for a long duration, Mecham says they will make effort for providing a place for seniors to get a hot meal daily.
The presence of materials containing asbestos in a building constructed in the 1950s is not a surprise. Asbestos was not a regulated material then and its hazards were not at all known to the public. Later it became known that asbestos is a very dangerous mineral which can even cause deadly cancers such as malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer. So, in the 1980s, the U.S. started regulating asbestos. Asbestos is not used as a building material now-a-days. However, old buildings still contain the material and so it has to be removed from these buildings. Asbestos removal is a very expensive and time consuming process which requires the service of a licensed contractor.