Residents of 2 apartment complexes in Colorado Springs, Colorado, were given a rude awakening this month, as local authorities ordered occupants to evacuate their homes within 10 days after tests came back positive for asbestos contamination.
Now the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has broadened its investigation to include a number of other properties in the city — all owned by the same company, Slipstream Properties.
That so many buildings operated by the same management company would be facing investigations raises some serious red flags about how the company has been maintaining its properties.
Slipstream Properties Under State Investigation
Colorado is now looking into whether or not Denver-based Slipstream Properties broke any laws in renovating 7 of its Colorado Springs-based buildings. In a press statement, the Colorado Department of Public Health said the following:
“The department is currently investigating whether residents at these facilities were exposed to asbestos and whether any state laws were broken during the renovation work. And if laws were broken, we will pursue appropriate action. We ordered asbestos testing at the complexes, and we are closely monitoring the work being conducted by private asbestos consultants and/or contractors.
“The department urges any residents of these complexes with questions or concerns about potential medical effects of asbestos exposure to speak with their medical provider. Residents should follow whatever recommendations or instructions their medical providers offer.”
Whatever the scope of the investigation, it appears the situation is more dire at the Park’s Edge and Shannon Glen Apartments — the 2 properties that were given evacuation notices earlier this month.
Speaking to CBS4 Denver, Alena Salazar said the timing of the evacuation could not have been worse: “It is rough because it is the middle of the month, it’s going to be Christmas,” Salazar told reporters. “Now my kids have lost their Christmas toys because we have to find a new place.”
Other residents told Fox31 Denver that their questions have gone unanswered, with calls to the number given on the eviction notice gone to voicemail.
Colorado Apartment Complexes Potentially Harboring Asbestos
According to KRDO, the following properties are being investigated by Colorado Health Department officials. Each one of them is owned by Slipstream Properties.
- 2818 Airport – Thrive at Slopeside (Previously Timbers)
- 1030 Chelton – Thrive at Rockledge (Previously Cedar Creek)
- 2713 Arlington – Thrive at Elevation (Previously El Vecino)
- 3815 Lakehurst – Thrive at the Pointe (Previously South Point)
- 4975 El Camino – North 49 Apartments (Previously New Horizon)
- 720 Chapman – Thrive at Park’s Edge (Previously Pine Creek) evacuation ordered.
- 260 N Murray – Thrive at the Incline (Previously Shannon Glen) evacuation ordered.
Like most states, Colorado requires a number of procedures for the proper handling and removal of asbestos. Once used as fire-retardant insulation material, asbestos is widespread in houses, factories, apartment complexes, and public buildings across the U.S.
A 1984 study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated some 20% of all buildings in the country contain friable asbestos. That means it exists in a form that is easily crumbled and can therefore be disbursed through the air, which is how asbestos becomes especially deadly.
For these reasons, asbestos is usually handled by professional abatement contractors. Abatement has no doubt reduced the number of buildings in the U.S. that contain friable asbestos, but the threat is far from removed, and the red tape involved in navigating this toxic substance can be daunting.
Nevertheless, it is necessary to ensure the safety of workers. It is doubly important if there are residents in a building who may be exposed to airborne asbestos.
What Colorado Residents Should Know About Asbestos in Their State
In Colorado, specifically, renovators must hire a Colorado-certified asbestos building inspector before performing any work on a structure built before 1988.
Property owners must also hire a Colorado-certified General Abatement Contractor if the asbestos is to be disturbed by any renovation, construction, or demolition activity. These housing laws come in addition to a host of other permits and notices that need to be filed with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
While not the most at-risk state when it comes to asbestos exposure — that title belongs to California — Colorado has a lengthy history with the deadly mineral. Several major industrial employers in the state — including the Conoco Oil Refinery, Hudson Energy Company, and Oxnard Construction Company — all relied on asbestos products up until the 1980s.
The fire-retardant qualities of asbestos made it a favorable insulation material for industrial processes involving a lot of heat.
Nationwide, asbestos is common in public schools, shipyards, garages, and factories. That makes mechanics, shipbuilders, construction workers, factory workers, plumbers, welders, and teachers some of the riskiest professions when it comes to asbestos exposure.