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Health, Science, Environment

Officials say no asbestos found near Clemens House after fire

Environmental Protection Agency workers met with city health officials at the Clemens House before learning they did not have authorization to test the site for asbestos.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
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Environmental Protection Agency workers met with city health officials at the Clemens House before learning they did not have authorization to test the site for asbestos in July.

The Environmental Protection Agency has found no trace of asbestos near the Clemens House in north St. Louis, according to city officials.

The mansion, built by Mark Twain’s uncle in 1860, burned on July 12, causing some residents to be concerned about asbestos contamination. The St. Louis Health Department contacted the Environmental Protection Agency, which began putting monitors up in the area one week later.

Dr. Tom Zink, a senior medical advisor to city’s health department and mayor, said the EPA had monitors on workers cleaning up debris from the fire and mowing nearby.

“These monitors were personal in terms of what you might inhale as you did those activities,” Zink said. “And there were also area monitors that sucked in volumes or air through filters and then the filters were tested.”

He said the tests found no asbestos from those monitors or the air monitors put up along Cass Ave. and Helen St.

“I’m happy to report that during that air monitoring for that timeframe from July 18 through August 2 there was no fibers from asbestos detected in any of the perimeter air sampling that was conducted,” he told St. Louis Public Radio.

The city health department will share those results with residents at a meeting Thursday at 6 p.m. with the St. Louis Place Neighborhood Organization at 2505 St. Louis Ave.

The building at 1849 Cass Ave. is owned by developer Paul McKee. In an earlier statement McKee said he had hired a company several years ago to remove loose asbestos, but roofing material containing asbestos was left in place in order to avoid damaging the house. 

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