Portland, OR—The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has determined that some of the debris from the warehouse fire at 1300 N River Road, Portland contains asbestos.
DEQ conducted site visits at the warehouse and nearby properties on Monday, May 15, to assess debris released as a result of the warehouse fire and the potential effects on surrounding areas. DEQ collected samples of the roofing paper (commonly found under asphalt shingles). Lab results show that the roofing paper contains asbestos. DEQ consulted with the Oregon Health Authority. OHA indicated that the type of potential short-term exposure to asbestos related to the fire is unlikely to pose any significant health risks.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that can be found at low levels in some soils. Asbestos has been found to cause cancer and respiratory health issues in people with long-term exposure to asbestos. Asbestos was used widely in building materials throughout the last century. Most people are exposed to some asbestos over the course of their lives and very few have any health problems because of it.
DEQ is working with its federal partners, the US Coast Guard and US EPA to determine how best to respond to the release of the asbestos.
To address the broader concern about debris deposited on neighboring residences and businesses during the fire, DEQ recommends that people not vacuum or try to pick up the material themselves at this time. DEQ and its partners are determining appropriate cleanup actions and will continue to provide updates.
For more information about asbestos, see http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tf.asp?id=29&...
Jennifer Flynt, Public Information Officer, DEQ, 503-730-5924
Nina DeConcini, NW Region Administrator, DEQ, 503-804-0840
Audrey O'Brien, Northwest Region Asbestos Manager, DEQ, 503-209-9182