Renovation work prompts asbestos concerns in Greene County

Concerns over asbestos exposure during renovation work at the Greene County Auditor's Office prompted the county to hire a contractor and test the air quality in the building.

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Twenty samples of the air on the first floor, at 69 Greene Street, were tested in October by Zanesville-based Lepi Enterprises to determine if any asbestos fibers were airborne, according to County Administrator Brandon Huddleson. 

The tests were ordered after ceiling tiles were removed during HVAC renovation work and employees noticed two beams with fireproofing insulation running down both sides of the hallways, Huddleson said. 

Huddleson said asbestos was determined to be in the beams, but the material is encapsulated and is not a hazard.

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"Undisturbed asbestos doesn't present any dangers or hazards to people," Huddleson said. 

The air samples all came back negative and the results are “a good indicator that the air flow in the building is not transporting asbestos fibers," Lepi's report reads. 

The situation was also investigated by the Regional Air Pollution Control Agency. 

RAPCA is an arm of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency which handles complaints and investigations in Montgomery, Miami, Greene, Clark, Darke and Preble counties, according to Ohio EPA Spokeswoman Dina Pierce. 

After receiving a complaint, RAPCA met with the employees and heard their concerns Oct. 12 and again on Oct. 20 after the air sample test results were known, according to Brian Huxtable, RAPCA air pollution control specialist. 

Huxtable said Lepi's report indicates there are no hazardous conditions in the building, in terms of asbestos fibers.

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"If the asbestos is in good condition, It doesn't necessarily means there's a hazard," he said. 

This is not the first time asbestos has been a concern at 69 Greene Street. 

Huddleson said floor tiles were removed during renovations in 2014, and special precautions were made because of the asbestos in the glue used to adhere the tiles to the concrete. 

A contractor was hired for that project, which was done over the weekend when no employees were in the building and the tiles were removed while air pumps ventilated the work area. 

Huddleson said air samples were conducted at that time and the results came back negative for asbestos fibers. 

Huddleson said they'll be testing the air quality on an annual basis to ensure the building is safe.

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