CANADA â€“ Asbestos was discovered in the maternity ward at Royal Victoria Hospital, but experts assure mothers were never at risk of being exposed to the harmful mineral.
Asbestos was discovered four weeks ago during a refurbishing project that was carried out at the Regional Fertility Clinic.
“At no time were any staff or patients in the maternity hospital put at risk from asbestos,â€ explained a spokesperson for The Belfast Trust. “Air monitoring tests were carried out to ensure that no staff or patients had been exposed, these tests were all clear. A programme of work has started to safely remove the asbestos.”
The reception area at the front of the maternity hospital is also undergoing remodeling and the Trust said that no asbestos has been discovered in that area.
According to Jim Wells, Deputy Chair of Stormont’s Health Committee, it was “disturbing that they did not know this was there in the first place, and it was discovered by accident.â€
â€œI would call for an investigation to establish other areas throughout the hospital where asbestos could be present,” he added.
The danger in asbestos is found when the mineral is disturbed. Intact, it generally poses no threat, but when fibers are released into the air, they can be breathed in by victims, leading to several health risks. Perhaps the worst disease related to asbestos exposure is mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung, chest and heart cavities. Mesothelioma can take up to 50 years to manifest, and by the time it does, it is usually too late for victims to seek treatment.
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