Asbestos abatement costs slow Ohio demolition plans

The foreclosure crisis in Ohio triggered the abandonment of a huge number of old homes and buildings, many in disrepair. To curb urban blight and reclaim neighborhoods, the state’s cities and towns want to demolish some of them. However, many of those structures are riddled with asbestos, which means they can't simply be knocked down. Before 1980, many homes and buildings were constructed with asbestos-containing products. Even though asbestos was banned for many construction uses in 1978, the law left an opening for existing materials in stock to be used up. As a result, houses and buildings continued to be built using some asbestos-containing materials. For that reason, the abandoned and dilapidated Ohio homes will require a fairly serious investment in asbestos removal before they will be safe for the wrecking ball. This is because certain methods of applying asbestos result in what is known as friable applications. When such building materials are disturbed they release asbestos dust and fibers into the air that can be inhaled. Asbestos exposure is the cause of mesothelioma, a deadly cancer, as well as other serious diseases. For this reason, any kind of construction or demolition in buildings where asbestos is present must follow strict guidelines. Asbestos abatement is a process by which the dangerous material is safely removed from a building before any construction or demolition can take place. For asbestos removal to be done safely, each asbestos-containing section of the building has to be sealed off in order to prevent contamination of other areas. Often, it's also necessary to seal off an asbestos-contaminated building from the outside atmosphere so that the surrounding air is not contaminated. With the vacant houses in Ohio slated for removal, the asbestos abatement costs are preventing many demolitions from taking place. According to Muskingum County Community Development Coordinator, Sheila Samson, the average cost per structure for asbestos abatement for the first round of demolitions in the city of Zanesville was close to $10,000.  Tim Smith, Zanesville’s Chief Code Enforcement Officer, says that the high cost of abatement may mean the city only demolishes about half of the originally estimated number of buildings. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine discussed the problem with officials and has a tentative plan to help. His office reportedly received $93 million from a multi-state lawsuit settlement with mortgage servicing companies. The settlement was to help Ohio cities resolve problems caused by the foreclosure crisis there. DeWine's plan is to set aside $75 million out of that settlement to help pay for the asbestos abatement needed for the demolitions. Reference: Gadd, Brian. (Jan. 8, 2013). “Ohio demolitions might lag because of asbestos costs.” Retrieved on Jan. 10, 2013, from Lancaster Eagle Gazette. Previous: Pfizer Appeals Asbestos Lawsuit Next: Scientist wins NAS award for mesothelioma drug