Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Demolition at Westgate Mall by Weitz HyVee creates asbestos dust hazard

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On Saturday, May 19, 2012, the south portion of Westgate Mall was being demolished on a windy day, sending much dust NE into residential areas. 

Since this was the first mall in Madison, built in 1960, some of the construction materials contain asbestos. The dangers of asbestos weren't widely recognized and regulated until the 1970s--asbestos use in the US peaked in 1973.

"Asbestos remains a threat to construction workers. Massive exposures to asbestos occurred among construction workers installing it between 1940 and the mid-1970s and removing it since then. Asbestos is often in old fireproofing, roofing, vinyl flooring, pipe and boiler insulation and some roads and cement-sheet products. Exposure can lead to asbestosis (a disabling lung disease), lung cancer and mesothelioma, a usually fatal cancer of the chest or abdominal cavity lining. Asbestos-related cancers usually do not appear until 20 to 30 years after exposure."  Source


Working with the door open, and no respirator.

A fence has been erected around the site to reduce the winds somewhat, and catch some of the insulation blowing out of the site.  There was a water spray on Friday.  But on Saturday during the work shown above, I saw no water spray to suppress the dust.

According to rankings by the American Lung Association based on EPA data, Madison has the 24th most polluted air of any city in the US (for short-term particulate pollution).

The winds today weren't particularly strong--maximum of 20 mph, and a maximum gust of 28 mph.*   But a windy week followed, with maximum gusts of 50 mph by May 24.

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More photos of Weitz/HyVee at Westgate.
Photos of dust at University Crossing site on 5/24 during heavy winds.
Photos of dust at Findorff site on Dayton St. on 5/24/12.
Dust from concrete work at a residence.
Dust from mortar mixing at a Tri-North Builders construction site.
Dust from a MG&E lot downtown, 2011.

*  According to Wunderground data from Middleton

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