Arizona’s Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) has announced an initiative that will help towns along historic Route 66 deal with asbestos concerns.
Recent problems with asbestos in Winslow, Holbrook and elsewhere in rural Arizona show the need for a targeted effort by ADEQ to work with communities to address potential asbestos problems and ensure that asbestos-containing material is handled and disposed of properly to reduce the risk of exposure to cancer-causing asbestos fibers, states an article in the Arizona Capitol Times.
Many small Arizona rural towns along the Route 66 corridor lack the funds and knowledge needed to properly demolish or renovate buildings that were constructed before warnings about the use of asbestos were issued. Much of the asbestos in these buildings “ some of them of historic value “ is friable or crumbling, making it easy to inhale dangerous asbestos fibers.
If asbestos is not handled properly during a renovation or demolition, it can present a huge risk to public health, as well as cause the site to become contaminated, ADEQ Director Steve Owens said. Through this initiative, we will provide technical assistance to communities to ensure that asbestos is dealt with safely and properly and, if there is contamination, find ways to help the community clean up the site.
As part of this new initiative, ADEQ has designated an outreach specialist in its air-quality division to provide technical assistance, outreach and asbestos education to rural communities, notes the article. The ADEQ is also adding an additional asbestos inspector and is ensuring that its community liaisons and staff in its regional offices are trained to help communities address asbestos-related issues.
We want local officials to contact us if they have any questions about potential asbestos problems in their communities, Owens said. We also want them to alert us about any improper demolition or renovation activities that can present a risk of asbestos exposure to people.
We will be working closely with rural communities all across the state, but we are focusing our efforts first in Northern Arizona, Owens added.