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Witnesses describe seeing and hearing the steam pipe explosion in downtown Baltimore near the corner of Eutaw and Pratt Street. (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun)

Asbestos has been found on the Holiday Inn building in downtown Baltimore, near the site of last Tuesday's steam pipe explosion, a spokesman with the Maryland Department of the Environment said Wednesday.

The department recommended workers "erect a scaffolding and shroud to remediate that," said spokesman Jay Apperson. Holiday Inn management was not immediately available to comment.

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The explosion, which rocked Eutaw Street between Pratt and Lombard streets, injured five people and sent debris through the air just before the start of an Orioles game. Initial environmental testing of the area showed low levels of asbestos.

The substance, which is known to cause cancer if inhaled, was once used to insulate pipes.

"Perimeter air monitoring continues, and we have been told it shows no evidence of asbestos," Apperson said.

Two environment department-licensed contractors are working to clean up the site, Apperson said. All asbestos wrapping from the affected area has been removed, he said, and air sampling in the crater left by the explosion shows no asbestos.

Veolia North America, which operates the city's 15-mile network of steam pipes, was not immediately available for comment. The company alerted the Baltimore Police Department last week that it was possible first responders may have been exposed to asbestos.

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