BURLEY, Idaho – South Central Public Health District is advising people to stay away from two buildings in Burley while crews clean up a burn site that is contaminated with asbestos.

The buildings, located at 1222 and 1226 Overland Ave., were destroyed by fire in January. Samples taken from the site in March tested positive for asbestos, the health district said, and the property owner was managing cleanup until the Environmental Protection Agency took over last Friday. Cleaning up the asbestos is estimated to take between two and four weeks.

Suzanne Skadowski, an EPA spokeswoman, said in a news release on Monday:

“During the cleanup work, we will spray water to keep the materials damp and we may also use a substance called a tackifier which will keep the asbestos fibers stuck in the debris to prevent them from becoming airborne during the cleanup process. We’ll also place air monitors on the workers and near the work site to ensure asbestos contaminated dust isn’t posing a threat to the community.”

The health district said the EPA does not believe anyone has been exposed to the asbestos, “unless they dug through the debris without proper equipment,” but anyone who believes they may have been exposed should contact a health professional for a medical screening. Once inhaled, the health district said, asbestos cannot be removed from the lungs.

“Asbestos inhalation can cause serious health effects if enough is inhaled,” said Craig Paul, SCPHD public health program manager. “Asbestos exposure should be taken seriously.”

Source: South Central Public Health District