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Judicial Building Mural Surprise: Asbestos Panels

Recently we’ve featured several blog posts discussing the Angelo di Benedetto mural at the soon-to-be-demolished Colorado Judicial Building. The Denver Post reports that workers have run into a bit of a problem in the process of removing the mural: when one of the panels broke, they discovered it was painted on panels made of 30% asbestos. The state wasn’t having much luck in finding a new home for the huge mural. Now, according to an earlier version of the Post story that you can read here, whoever takes the mural will also have to take responsibility for the asbestos liability. Unfortunately, that doesn’t bode well for the mural’s future. As planned, the mural will be placed in storage.

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9 Comments

  1. BallPark resident says:

    Why don’t they just encase them in an air-tight display case – like something you’d see in the museum – and prop them up along side the new judical complex as a public art exhibit? If the zoo can showcase poisonous snakes behind a thick glass wall, surely someone can find away to do something similar to the murals.

    • Nick says:

      Agreed. There ought to be some way to seal them up and put them somewhere for display. I know it’s a rather large work but I don’t think it’s too much price to pay for preserving it.

  2. Matt Pizzuti says:

    That essentially means that if the panel had never broke, no one would have even known the mural has asbestos in it.

    I’m all for banning unsafe construction materials, but this is a little over the edge. You could just paint a plastic sealant over the panels and everything should be fine.

  3. Paul says:

    It’s not the preserving of the panels that’s the issue. It’s the liability, and the financing of, that will drive up the cost to whomever might take the panels.

    Too bad someone didn’t keep their mouth shut.

  4. Dave Barnes says:

    Asbestos is NOT dangerous.
    Get over it.

  5. Aaron says:

    Dave, you have absolutely no clue. I do agree that the mural itself is of negligible health risk, as the asbestos in the cement board it’s painted on is bonded so strongly with the cement as to make it essentially non-friable.

    However, friable asbestos is a very serious health hazard, and one I’m quite knowledgeable about.

  6. Dave Barnes says:

    @Aaron,

    I do have a clue as my first father-in-law died from a combination of building ships in WW2 with asbestos and smoking later in life. His resulting lung cancer was swift and brutal.

    However, the panic that the average member of the public has over the word asbestos is stupid.

    This mural is not dangerous when displayed.

    • seanshawn says:

      huh? That’s like saying you know car accidents aren’t deadly because you have a friend who died in one. Hard to claim special insider knowledge when that knowledge is counter to your point.

    • Aaron says:

      Dave,

      I do agree that the panic people have over the word asbestos is downright stupid. And I agree with you about the mural, at least when properly protected. (literally millions of homes still have asbestos cement siding on them!) However, there are big differences in asbestos. The cement board is essentially non-friable, but you can’t say the same thing about pipe insulation, old furnace insulation, popcorn ceiling texture, etc… etc… With old linoleum, the backing can be more than 40% asbestos. Safe when it’s in good condition, can be absolutely terrible when pulled up without proper containment procedures!

      (For the record, I worked as an asbestos air monitoring specialist, inspector, and consultant for 5 years)