Respiratory concerns in Albert Lea

Respiratory Concerns in Albert Lea

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(ABC 6 News) – Mayo Clinic officials say they took care of an asbestos problem inside the Naeve Hospital building before starting its demolition in November. But a few locals think some of their respiratory issues are coming from the site.

One person wrote into the ABC 6 newsroom saying, “many of us have been sick for some time now, including myself, my daughter, and two grandkids.”

Others took to social media to saying things like, “dust and no abatement of asbestos. Neighbors are complaining of coughing and respiratory issues.”

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, airborne asbestos can be present during remodeling and demolition of buildings and if exposed people can contract asbestos related illnesses.

But other neighbors say they are not having any problems.

“I haven’t had anything happen to me at all. I’ve just noticed extra dust and know they are trying to keep that under control with the water,” said Pam Schmidt.

“I have respiratory issues with a lot of allergies, and I usually pick up when there’s something in the air. But I have not felt anything with this demolition,” said Dody Johnson.

In a statement to ABC 6 News, Mayo Clinic said in part, “Before any demolition work, abatement industry partners ensured that all asbestos materials were removed. That process concluded on Oct. 19… the building was inspected by the city of albert lea to confirm abatement completion before demolition work started.”

These neighbors think the concerns are valid, but the time of year could be playing a factor in their health.

“You know if COVID is up people could be feeling the effects of that. It could be that. But I don’t think there is anything coming from this. But it could be their allergies and the time of season,” said Johnson.

Respiratory illnesses are on the rise right now, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. In Freeborn County hospitalizations for COVID are up 50-percent over the last week. Statewide RSV numbers have spiked in the last couple of weeks.