Oswego County Takes Steps to Address Traces of Asbestos in DSS Ceiling Tiles

MEXICO – The Oswego County Department of Social Services notified employees today that certain ceiling tiles in the older part of the building have tested positive for low-level asbestos content under 2 percent. County Administrator Philip Church said the county received confirmation of the test results Wednesday night, March 21.

The ceiling tiles pose no health threat unless they are damaged or moved. The county is taking several steps to address the issue.

“The testing completed so far indicates the building environment is safe for employees and the public, which is my primary concern,” said Church. “Air monitoring test results found no asbestos.”

Oswego County contracted with an environmental testing firm to conduct air quality monitoring and test ceiling tiles for asbestos at the DSS building based upon an employee’s concern.

“Initial air quality monitoring results fell well within the permissible safety guidelines established for employees in the workplace, which indicates there has not been a release of asbestos fibers,” Church said. “Subsequent air test results received today show no contamination.

“Materials containing more than 1 percent asbestos are considered regulated by the federal government, and the county is required to develop a maintenance safety plan for replacing the tiles. Now that we have determined there is no immediate risk to county employees or the general public, we are moving forward to develop a plan to ensure their ongoing safety and address the issue,” said Church.

The county is also looking at maintenance records for all county facilities to determine if other buildings may be affected.

“There will be no movement of tiles until maintenance records regarding the installation and location of ceiling tiles can be determined,” said Church. “If movement or replacement is necessary, it will be done under the supervision of a trained environmental specialist.”

Church said that DSS Commissioner Gregg Heffner today notified DSS employees of the asbestos testing process and of the steps being taken to resolve the issue. Employees have been advised to report it to their supervisor if they notice a newly-damaged tile. Labor union leaders representing DSS employees were also notified.

“If a potential safety or health issue is discovered, the County works to identify the problem, promptly notify its employees, and resolve the issue as soon as possible,” said Church.