Demolition continues on the Cheeburger Cheeburger building on Market Street. WRCBtv.com photo
Demolition for a popular downtown restaurant Cheeburger Cheeburger is underway and has been for about a week now.
It’s caused a big mess and created a lot of dust too. When buildings are set for a planned demolition inspectors go through the facility to check for materials that could potentially be dangerous, but for buildings that suddenly collapsed like Cheeburger Cheeburger that’s not the case.
"They are very tiny microscopic particles; they can get airborne and stay airborne for days," David Bashor, State Inspector said.
State officials aren't sure if asbestos is present, but they don't want to take any chances.
"The body attacks it as an irritant, and then it can begin to form scar tissue and then that can create one of a couple cancers,” Bashor said.
Last week the city approved $120,000 in emergency funding to tear down the building. Chattanooga-Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Bureau tells Channel 3 that they haven't run any tests, but in emergency demolitions like this one, crews are required to treat the materials as if there is an asbestos contamination.
"They fold each side in and they don't run up on the material, but they knock it down and keep it wet reduce any potential exposure,” Bashor explained.
The recent rainfall kept the dust settled for now, but state inspectors said there's little asbestos risk to people in the area.
"Is it possible there was asbestos that somebody could get a few particles in their lungs? Yes. Is it likely they're going to get asbestos disease following that exposure? No,” Bashor said.
Though the exposure may be low, Hagermeyer said she plans to stay away until the demolition is complete.
"If I take my clients out here and asbestos gets in my lungs it can be very harmful to them and now when I was trying to get them healthier if that back tracks us that's not a good thing,” Hagermeyer said.
State and federal laws require the debris from the building to be hauled off to a landfill and covered up to prevent any potentially hazardous materials from spreading.