Essential Virginia Government Building Contains Asbestos

An old but essential government building in Richmond, Virginia, contains asbestos in one tower, according to an article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The contaminated tower is part of a four-building government complex on Richmond's Capitol Square that was also cited for fire and safety code violations. When Virginia's General Assembly is in session, the complex houses all 140 legislature members, as well as staff, lobbyists, and journalists. Two General Assembly clerks have year-round offices there and member of the public also use the building. Extensive repairs are needed for the complex to be brought up to code. Richard F. Sliwoski, the director of the Virginia Department of General Services, reportedly was scheduled to meet with his staff for a planning session about how to proceed with repairs and what costs such a plan would incur. Because asbestos is carcinogenic and can be easily inhaled when airborne, government-regulated safety procedures must be followed for its removal. A licensed asbestos abatement company must be hired, and the removal process can be both time-consuming and costly. Asbestos was a commonly used substance in the construction of buildings as recently as 30 years ago due to its fire- and heat-resistant properties. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to asbestos is linked with mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer that may be diagnosed many decades after the asbestos exposure. People who worked in manufacturing, engineering, and construction as well as people who served in the military should review their work history for any possible asbestos exposure, especially if mesothelioma symptoms may be occurring. Mesothelioma symptoms can be difficult to spot, as they initially can closely resemble symptoms of a common cold. A thorough medical history indicating asbestos exposure is what usually helps doctors to suspect mesothelioma. Reference:
  • Martz, Michael (January 27, 2013) "General Assembly Building in need of repairs." Retrieved on February 8, 2013, from The Richmond Times-Dispatch.
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