Sevierville, Tennessee – Warning signs have been placed at Sevier County Courthouse for warning about the presence of asbestos. The dangerous material is there in the shingles that are being replaced on the roof of the building. However, county spokesperson Perrin Anderson says that is not a health threat to individuals who are staying out of the restricted areas.
Some shingles present on the 2 older portions of the roof – the 1971 addition and the original structure – contained the deadly carcinogen, Anderson said. The officials were fully aware of the asbestos presence. The removal as well as remediation of asbestos had been included in the contract for replacing the roof, according to Anderson.
Asbestos is a fibrous silicate mineral occurring in the nature. It was commonly used in construction works until the 1980s due to its exceptional strength and excellent resistance against heat, electricity and fire. Its use became restricted and highly regulated later as testing showed asbestos exposure could result in lung cancer, asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma. Asbestos-related diseases usually appear several decades after the exposure to asbestos fibers. However, all the asbestos-related diseases, especially mesothelioma, are deadly. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer which affects the mesothelial cells.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asbestos can release minute fibers into the environment if the products containing the material are disturbed, damaged or broken. Asbestos products could be disturbed during repair, remodeling or demolition of old buildings and therefore such jobs should be done with extreme care. Only authorized contractors are allowed to handle works involving asbestos. Asbestos is not dangerous as long as its fibers do not become airborne, according to the agency.
Anderson said asbestos is not there inside the courthouse building. He said the roof is separated from the main floors of the building, which still remain in use, by a number of layers. He said it is not a hazard to the folks who are inside the building as asbestos is present only in roofing shingles, which are being collected as well as bagged as they are removed. They are being placed in a container for disposal, Anderson said.
The areas where the crews are working have been roped off in order to ensure the safety, according to Anderson. He said there should not be any risk to the people as long as they stay out of the restricted areas.