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Asbestos found at Yellow Brick

Naomi Havlen

Asbestos was recently discovered and will soon be removed from a crawl space in the basement of the Yellow Brick Building, home to a number of daycare programs.

According to Aspen Environmental Health Director Lee Cassin, the discovery of the substance was made as part of the city’s program to inspect asbestos, and determine where the substance is deteriorating to prevent exposure before it happens.

“We hired a consultant to study every spec of asbestos in every city-owned building,” she said. The Yellow Brick Building, which dates back to the 1960s, is located on the corner of Hallam and Garmisch streets.

The space in question is an asbestos insulation wrap around a 2-inch pipe in a crawl space in the basement. Although the pipe is in an out-of-the-way location that would take a ladder to get to, Cassin said there is concern that at some point in the future there may be a problem with the water pipe, and anyone looking to fix the problem might knock down the deteriorating asbestos.

Such a scenario became reality at the Yellow Brick Building in 2000.

In late August of that year, asbestos was found in the former elementary school building when workmen installing a new boiler broke open the covering on an asbestos-insulated heating pipe in the building’s basement boiler room. The asbestos released from that break was then tracked through the building.

The contamination occurred when as many as 80 children a day were in the building for daycare. As a result, the building was shut down while the asbestos was removed, and children were relocated to a Skico-owned building in Snowmass Village.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring substance. Its tiny fibers can be inhaled and become lodged in people’s lungs, causing a variety of serious health problems. Those problems, according to health experts, only occur when asbestos fibers are inhaled in high concentrations over an extended period of time.

Cassin said the current asbestos abatement will not require anyone to be relocated from the Yellow Brick Building – air machines will keep air flowing into the crawl space so that no air will go from the space into the rest of the building. The area will also be fully enclosed in plastic to prevent exposure.

Asbestos removal is done by a licensed asbestos abatement firm, certified by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Cassin said. Although she doesn’t yet know how long the removal process will take, she said the city is hoping to do the removal when the most daycare centers in the building are on summer break, so they won’t be hassled by the project.

Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com


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