Workers delayed the demolition of the government complex in Panama City because of asbestos found inside the structure, according to a report at maacenter.org. Demolition workers found asbestos painted onto the ceiling of one of the buildings. They were able to tear down the surrounding buildings, but they left the one asbestos-laden building standing.
If left alone, asbestos is fairly harmless. However, once the asbestos fibers become airborne, any exposure can be deadly. Not even masks can stop the inhalation of the fibers, which can lead to lung cancer and mesothelioma. A mesothelioma victim often does not know they have the fatal disease until decades after the fact. It can take up to 40 years for a mesothelioma diagnosis, and doctors often do not discover it until its advanced stages.
Asbestos was a popular building and insulation material in the 20th century. The asbestos fibers are durable and can withstand heat, pressure and friction. Despite its health risks, many products around today contain asbestos from decades ago.
The demolition of the government complex will continue once workers remove the asbestos. Workers will have to separate the asbestos from the ceiling and take it to an approved disposal site.