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Asbestos at Palm Grove centre nothing to fear, says expert

The Palm Grove Shopping Centre in Road Town.

Chief Environmental Health Officer, Lionel Michael has said the asbestos-affected Palm Grove Shopping Centre in Road Town is not a health hazard.

Asbestos is a mineral commonly used in building construction, and inhaling small particles of asbestos can lead to cancer and respiratory illnesses.

Members of the public became concerned about the decades-old Palm Grove Centre since the hurricanes when authorities spray-painted the word ‘asbestos’ across the building. However, it has since been covered.

Though asbestos is still in the building, the territory’s environmental health chief said the public has nothing to fear.

“The asbestos that is on the roof is the crystallite asbestos. It is not the more dangerous type. It does not present a hazard to the public at this time,” Michael told BVI News.

“It has to be significantly disturbed to present any health risk to people,” he said, adding that the mineral must be removed responsibly.

Michael said asbestos becomes dangerous when it crumbles and releases dust or fibres into the air. He said the type of asbestos that crumbles easily is not in the BVI.

He stated that owners of the hurricane-ravaged shopping centre are responsible for hiring professionals to safely remove the mineral.

The Environmental Health Department said they are on standby to offer assistance.

BVI News also contacted City Manager, Janice Braithwaite-Edwards about the asbestos-affected building.

She said she was unable to speak about the issue as talks with the relevant parties are underway.

Asbestos at prison too

Meanwhile, BVI News has been told that asbestos is also at Her Majesty’s Prison in Balsam Ghut on Tortola.

But, Michael said his department recently conducted asbestos removal training for contractors who are repairing the roof at the penitentiary.

The prison had also received its share of damage from the hurricanes last year.

About Asbestos

Asbestos is said to be resistant to heat, electricity and chemical corrosion but it can be highly toxic when the fibres become trapped in the body.

There are several types of asbestos: crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, actinolite, chrysotile, and amphibole asbestos.

The roof of the asbestos-affected Palm Grove Shopping Centre was damaged by the hurricanes.

Copyright 2018 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

31 Comments

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  1. Albion says:

    That sounds suspicious to me. Asbestos panels exposed to the weather and flapping the wind are “not being disturbed”? That sounds unlikely.

    • Think about it says:

      Granted, it is being”disturbed” but the age old question for any material that could be harmful, is what is the exposure? And, in the case of asbestos, what is type and the size distribution of airborne asbestos fibers. US EPA has determined small (< 5 micrometer) fibers don't matter. Chrysotile asbestos, the most widely used form in North America, offers much lower risk than other forms of asbestos. It is doubtful that emissions from weathering would result in community exposures associated with significant risk under normal circumstances. Main thing with asbestos cement products is not to saw it, grind it, or otherwise pulverize it.

      • Albion says:

        Right, but you are saying it is “doubtful” that significant numbers of people in Road Town will be exposed to a slow, painful and inexorable death from asbestosis. Is “doubtful” the right test? Why are we taking these risks *at all*?

  2. Ridiculous says:

    We must educate ourselves and not have them tell us any old story to keep us quiet! All asbestos are dangerous!!
    Asbestos
    https://www.asbestos.net/asbestos/

    https://www.asbestos.com/asbestos/types/
    Is All Asbestos Dangerous?
    While some types of asbestos may be more hazardous than others, all are dangerous. Leading health agencies, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the EPA and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, classify all types of asbestos as cancer-causing substances.

    All the identified forms of asbestos can cause asbestosis, malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, laryngeal cancer and other serious diseases.

    Some agencies, such as the Health Protection Agency in the U.K., claim amphibole varieties of asbestos are the most dangerous forms. The EPA has abandoned projects aiming to identify which asbestos fiber types are the most toxic, citing the overall regulation of asbestos and asbestiform minerals as a more pressing priority.

    Chrysotile Asbestos

    Chrysotile, commonly referred to as “white asbestos,” was used in the vast majority of the myriad asbestos-containing products manufactured in the United States during the 20th century, and the United States and Canada were once major producers of the toxic mineral.

    Naturally occurring deposits of chrysotile are often accompanied by trace amounts of amphibole types of asbestos, which increase its toxicity. However, exposure to chrysotile asbestos fibers alone still creates a serious risk of developing a life-threatening illness, and the NIOSH has concluded people should treat chrysotile asbestos with virtually the same level of concern as all other forms of asbestos.

    Chrysotile asbestos-containing products include:

    AdhesivesBrake padsCementDrywallFireproofingGasketsInsulationRoofingVinyl tiles

    • Kinza says:

      What happens in the US is irrelevant. This is the BVI. The US has a dreadful environmental record and is the worst polluter per capita in the world. Why would we want to turn to them for guidance?

    • Kinza says:

      What happens in the US is irrelevant. This is the BVI. The US has a dreadful environmental record and is the worst polluter per capita in the world. Why would we want to turn to them for guidance when it should be learned from other, more progressive countries.

  3. Survey says:

    Look back over the years and run a statistic of the unit owners and long time workers of that building.

  4. Palm Grove Shopping Center says:

    This entire structure needs to be demolished and a more modern and contemporary structure needs to be built in its place.

    It should be an attractive multi-level structure with offices, penthouse dining/entertainment and commercial establishments on the first and second floors.

    It could be a PPP between existing owners and the public sector.

  5. THINK! says:

    That is not what was said when they took it out of the Elmore Stoutt High School some years ago. Everybody was in Hazmat suits that worked on the site and classes were not held. As was said above, the fibers are not human friendly. They all produce fibers, some long some short, some hard some soft. The bottom line is they can all become embedded in the lungs and cause damage to the delicate tissues and lining.

    Do not be fooled.

  6. BuzzBvi says:

    Chief Environmental Health Officer, Lionel Michael says the roof of the Palm Grove Centre has not been “significantly distrurbed.”

    Has anybody else seen it!! He could work for an insurance company.

    “Chrysotile, commonly referred to as “white asbestos,” was used in the vast majority of the myriad asbestos-containing products manufactured in the United States during the 20th century, and the United States and Canada were once major producers of the toxic mineral.

    Naturally occurring deposits of chrysotile are often accompanied by trace amounts of amphibole types of asbestos, which increase its toxicity. However, exposure to chrysotile asbestos fibers alone still creates a serious risk of developing a life-threatening illness, and the NIOSH has concluded people should treat chrysotile asbestos with virtually the same level of concern as all other forms of asbestos.”

    Somebody needs to go back with a tin of paint and a brush.

  7. THINK! says:

    That is not what was said when they took it out of the Elmore Stoutt High School some years ago. Everybody was in Hazmat suits that worked on the site and classes were not held. As was said above, the fibers are not human friendly. They all produce fibers, some long some short, some hard some soft. The bottom line is they can all become embedded in the lungs and cause damage to the delicate tissues and lines.

  8. Bvi expert says:

    World Trade Organization have all confirmed that chrysotile is indeed different from amphibole forms of asbestos like crocidolite in its chemical structure, but that it is still a serious carcinogen.

  9. WELL says:

    We have two doctors in the government and have this man talking p*&&. The BVI acting like the worst third world country asbestos and mold are very dangerous. This is the only government in the world have their people expose to mold and asbestos. It is a damn shame.

  10. VG says:

    Exactly the type of comment you would expect from a country 30 years behind the rest of the world.
    Asbestos is not good in any form, and you need a specialist team with specialist equipment to remove it from wherever it is found.

  11. Interested says:

    Asbestos causes asbestosis and mesothelioma which is a deadly lung cancer.

  12. what a ting!! says:

    Are these so called health environmental officers capitalizing on the ignorance of society? It is like saying you have cancer but it is not lung cancer stage 4 it is Stage 1. All asbestos are toxic. Some more dangerous than others. Put the lives of people first … Shame on you for making such a crappy statement. … Not everyone in the society is ignorant of certain health issues from harmful substances left unchecked.

    • ZM says:

      The article did say Asbestos is not DANGEROUS. Read again!!the Asbestos must be disturb by construction activities in an unsafe manner for it to present a risk!!

      • Hazmat says:

        Exactly! It’s like saying falling off a roof is dangerous when only hitting the ground is dangerous. Falling is perfectly safe. As is asbestos.

  13. ZM says:

    The article never stated that the Chief Environmental Health Officer said Asbestos was not Dangerous. The article said Asbestos have to be significantly disturbed to present a risk to health and safety. At present the Asbestos at he palm grove shopping center is not being disturbed by grinding,sawing pounding,cutting ,drilling or anything of the sought. Natural weathering does not constitute Asbestos disturbance. People of the BVI PLEASE try and understand what you are reading on the internet.

    Workers who will be removing the Asbestos will be at risk and are therefore required to wear Personal Protective Equipment(PPE) and Control measures will have to be put in place to prevent risk to workers and the public.

    Yes Asbestos in and of itself is a dangerous substance. But the Asbestos in the present building is not being disturbed at this time to present any risk to health and safety

    • WOW says:

      @ZM. So tell me, what did hurricanes Irma and Maria do to the BVI? Would you say the asbestos got a beating as well, far greater than grinding, sawing, cutting etc. as you stated? Come on, wake up! The particles are already exposed and in the air. Who knows where some of the asbestos roof of that structure ended up during the storm, might be somewhere near you.
      What about that ice cream van parked right outside with the workers being exposed on a daily basis.
      And we wonder why our loved ones are ending up with cancer. It’s because we allow these things to happen and turn a blind eye.
      We have to start taking these things seriously. Wake up our little paradise it’s not just roses we are smelling.

  14. Asbestos is no joke says:

    There are persons that have been affected by asbestos by just living in a home with it, no construction or the like was being done (I would classify this as being ‘undisturbed’. It was later found out that the quick health decline in memory etc. was due to this substance in the building and once they moved or rebuilt, their health was improved.
    Although their are various types I share the same sentiment. Why risk it? and we just had two massive hurricanes how can we tell when it will be ‘disturbed’ or ‘further exposed’?

  15. Caveene says:

    Who are these people? are you talking about the “Friable” type of Asbestos?.

    Because corrugated/Roof containing Asbestos would NOT make anyone ill unless they are in the same room /area for a long time while the Asbestos were removed ,repaired or otherwise disturb

  16. SMH says:

    Asbestos not an issue..bull crap! More so those ceiling tiles being used throughout the Territory especially in public and commercial buildings poses a threat to humans. Remember every two bodies does not perform the same, so it might take even a dusting to affect someone. Get with a safer and more efficient guideline in building materials.

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