Cleanup in the wake of the fire at Castle Rock Bike & Ski came to a halt after crews discovered asbestos in the fire’s rubble.
A demolition inspector who discovered the asbestos spill at the building at 725 Wilcox Street in downtown Castle Rock reported it to the state health department, said Christopher Dan, communications liaison for the department’s air pollution control division.
“A lot of the details are still being determined,” he said. “We haven’t received any formal notification.”
Notification comes to the health department when a permit for removal of asbestos is delivered to the department, Dan said. At press time, no permit application had arrived, he said.
The certified building inspector verified the hazardous spill in the unit at the bike shop and adjacent units in the building, Dan said.
The building was built in 1976, according to public records, and was damaged in a Jan. 4 fire. At press time, the origin of the asbestos and extent of the spill remain under investigation, Dan said. The department confirmed asbestos was disturbed and released during the fire, he said.
“When you have an event like a fire, depending on the age of building, it can be on walls, ceilings, floor tile or behind walls as insulation and piping,” Dan said. “In other units that received cross-contamination, asbestos needs to be removed. It’s not uncommon in circumstances like this.”
The state health department is working on asbestos spills nearly every day of the year in Colorado, Dan said.
Typical exposure to the public is through an airborne release and, once the building is properly secured, the risk to the public is “none,” Dan said. Tape and signs on the building Jan. 22 warned of the presence of asbestos and prohibited access to the affected units.
The town and fire department were not aware of the spill until the signs were brought to their attention.
The town received a demolition permit request from ServPro on Jan. 9 and, by Jan. 21, the application was withdrawn, said Karen McGrath, town spokeswoman.
The company did not provide an explanation of the reason for withdrawal of the application, McGrath said.
Fire Chief Art Morales did not know if firefighters were exposed to asbestos during the initial response to the burning building, he said.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is the name given to a number of naturally occurring minerals that have been mined for their useful properties such as thermal insulation, chemical and thermal stability, and high tensile strength. The types of asbestos that are regulated are: Chrysotile, Amosite, Crocidolite, Anthophyllite, Tremolite, and Actinolite.
Why is Asbestos a hazard?
Asbestos is made up of microscopic bundles of fibers that may become airborne when distributed. These fibers get into the air and may become inhaled into the lungs, where they may cause significant health problems. Researchers still have not determined a "safe level" of exposure but the greater and the longer the exposure, the greater the risk of contracting an asbestos-related disease. Some of these health problems include:
• Asbestosis - a lung disease that cases scarring of the lungs. Eventually, this scarring may become so severe that the lungs cannot function. The latency period is often 25-40 years.
• Mesothelioma - a cancer of the lining of the lung and chest and/or the lining of the abdominal wall. This form of cancer is peculiar because the only known cause is from asbestos exposure. The latency period for mesothelioma is often 15-50 years.
• Lung Cancer – can be caused by asbestos. The effects of lung cancer are often greatly increased by cigarette smoking (by about 50%). Cancer of the gastrointestinal tract can also be caused by asbestos. The latency period for cancer is often 15-30 years.
Source: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, air pollution control division