Environmental Protection Agency officials say there is no evidence of asbestos in the debris from an intense fire that occurred in south St. Louis last week.
Officials from the EPA and the St. Louis City Department of Health presented the findings at a Shaw Neighborhood Association meeting Monday night. The EPA sent 80 samples to a laboratory to be tested for asbestos. The first 21 were sampled on Friday in areas close to the warehouse on Park Avenue and test results indicated that three of them contained asbestos fibers.
That prompted the city department of health to request additional samples that were collected the next day in areas downwind from the site.
"We went out and did 59 more samples on Saturday," EPA spokesperson David Bryan said. "Of those samples, all were non-detected for asbestos."
Bryan advised residents to dispose any fire debris found on their property. Short-term exposure to asbestos is not likely to harm a person's health; only continued exposure to the substance over many years could raise a person's risk of getting cancer.
The St. Louis Fire Department also conducted air monitoring and tested for hazardous substances, including benzene and other volatile organic compounds that are known to be human carcinogens.
Monitoring results indicated only an increase in carbon monoxide levels. However, St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson said the department needs more information on what items were stored in the warehouse.
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