Officials in Madison County, Indiana, have been forced to close their government operations and temporarily move to another complex after asbestos was discovered during an HVAC replacement project. The county commissioner reports that the $2 million project will take nearly seven months to complete, but is critical to ensure the ongoing safety of the Government Center workers, employees and visitors. The work is expected to be completed in June 2018.
According to a statement issued by the Madison County Board of Commissioners on Aug. 17, when a construction team went to install the updated HVAC system in the summer, they discovered asbestos in the crawl spaces above the ceilings. County officials immediately hired a company to measure the level of airborne asbestos in the building. According to the asbestos report, “airborne asbestos contamination is currently not an area of concern.” However, asbestos remediation was required in order to “safely” complete the HVAC project.
Asbestos was used heavily in building construction prior to the 1980s, and prior to any renovation or work in older buildings it is critical to ensure asbestos is safely removed. The Madison County Courthouse was built in 1973. The commissioner’s office made safety a priority and was proactive in having the asbestos remediated prior to completion of the HVAC work to protect the public from any health concerns.
Asbestos is a known carcinogen and is shown to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and other respiratory illnesses. Mesothelioma is a terminal cancer for which few treatment options are available. The disease develops slowly after microscopic asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested. It can be decades before symptoms present themselves and the cancer is diagnosed. Although not everyone exposed develops these diseases, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that there is no safe level of exposure.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is tasked with overseeing asbestos compliance in the state. According to its website, “When an asbestos containing product is disturbed or damaged, asbestos fibers become airborne and may be inhaled into the lungs. The inhalation of asbestos fibers can result in significant health effects.”
The Madison County Government Center will close in November 20, for seven months, and will reopen in late June 2018, as reported by RTV6-ABC on Oct. 3. The court’s and clerk’s offices will be moved to the Flagship Center, while all other government offices will be housed in the Anderson Tower Building.
See the Madison County website for full disclosure on the asbestos abatement project.