Old buildings have charm. Old buildings have character. Many old buildings also have asbestos.
When renovations happen, we put our trust in the companies who have the special training to properly remove asbestos without endangering the public. That trust is broken, time and time again, by companies who cut corners. That certainly appears to be the case in a historic hotel in Spokane, Washington.
Over the course of its 107-year existence, ownership of the Otis Hotel has switched hands many times. With each new owner came new renovations, and those renovations came the introduction of asbestos.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, used heavily in construction from the 1930s to the 1980s. Undisturbed, it poses no immediate health hazard, but when asbestos fibers are disturbed, such as during construction, they become airborne and can become lodged in the lungs. After decades of the lodged fibers causing tissue damage, a rare but deadly cancer called mesothelioma can take hold.
Renovation gone wrong
Last year, the building’s owner hired three companies to renovate the hotel. Now, all three have been cited for violating health and safety rules because of improper asbestos handling and disposal. The following materials containing asbestos were reportedly mishandled:
- Floor tiles
- Insulated pipes
- Popcorn ceilings
With citations for both the handling and the disposal of the asbestos, the airborne fibers could find their way, not only into the lungs of those nearby the site, but the lungs of those handling the improperly disposed asbestos, such as sanitation workers.
While we want to continue renovating beautiful, historic buildings and homes, it is imperative that the people charged with removal take proper precautions when asbestos is involved.