Photo Credit: Eric Fischer
BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) has started renovations on what is probably its busiest station in San Francisco. Powell Street is the closest stop to Union Square, downtown’s central hub, so the high traffic area is visited by thousands of tourists and local residents on a daily basis. BART’s maintenance is essential in order to support the large quantity of people moving in and out of the station, but it will require removal of asbestos-containing ceiling tiles and panels.
The removal process can cause asbestos fibers to become airborne. If necessary cautions are not taken by certified asbestos removers, individuals are then susceptible to inhalation or ingestion of these fibers, which causes deadly diseases. BART has ensured that throughout the process a filtering system and safety monitors will be present.
BART was able to successfully remove asbestos from eight other stations this past summer, so it is likely the Powell Station will be no different. However, asbestos should always be treated as dangerous even with all precautions in place. If asbestos fibers become airborne, not only is there a first-hand risk of inhalation or ingestion, but fibers can also be transported on clothing or hair, putting others at risk of second-hand exposure.