A notice of an asbestos project has been posted in Aberdeen's downtown post office, while floor tiles in the lobby are replaced.
"The Postal Service is working with certified contractors to replace floor tiles in the lobby of the Aberdeen Post Office to ensure code compliance," Freda Sauter, a spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service, wrote in an email Wednesday.
A sign, reading "NOTICE OF ASBESTOS PROJECT" all in capital letters, was posted on the post office front door Tuesday night. The sign indicated "an asbestos project is planned for this area" from Sunday through Monday.
The building at 30 W. Bel Air Ave. is safe for customers and employees, and it is open, since the work is being done after business hours, according to Sauter.
There is "no specific date of completion" for the project at the time, according to Sauter. Testing has been conducted, and the asbestos found "presents no imminent exposure," as it is non-friable, she stated.
Materials that contain asbestos, such as vinyl floor tiles, are non-friable. The asbestos within will not be released into the air unless the materials are disturbed by "aggressive operations" such as sanding or sawing, according to a federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration web page on asbestos.
The material, which has heat and fire-resistant properties, had been used in multiple clothing and building materials in the past. Exposure to asbestos in dust or fibers can cause cancer or respiratory diseases such as mesothelioma, according to the OSHA page.
The Aberdeen post office downtown was built in 1936.
PRISM Response Inc., of Export, Pa., is listed on the sign as the contractor. The company's specialties include "asbestos abatement, interior demolition, mold remediation, disaster restoration and surface preparation," according to its website.
Aberdeen resident Bob Hartman brought up the asbestos removal project during a City Council meeting Monday, when he asked Mayor Patrick McGrady for an update on the post office.
McGrady talked about the recent completion of a disabled-access ramp at the front entrance, but Hartman stopped him and talked about the asbestos removal, saying, incorrectly, that the post office had been closed.
McGrady said he would check into it.
On the ramp, McGrady said the final items on the "punch list" for the structure had been completed last week, coinciding with the May 3 opening of the Aberdeen Farmers Market in Festival Park.
That was almost one year to the day after he led a May 6, 2017 rally on the post office steps to push the U.S. Postal Service's Baltimore district office to construct a ramp so people with disabilities, senior citizens, even parents with strollers do not have to struggle to get up the steps. About 40 people attended the rally.
"The work is not complete yet, because the ramp does not connect to parking lot in the back," McGrady said.
He said that connection will be "the next ask" of the postal service.
"I'm very excited to see that project through to completion," McGrady said.