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.
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.
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