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Health Department Shuts Down Mall Because of Asbestos

June 26, 1987 GMT

DENVER (AP) _ The Colorado Department of Health shut down most of a huge shopping mall in Littleton on Thursday after asbestos was found during renovation.

The action affected dozens of stores in the Southglenn Mall. Only stores with direct outside access were allowed to remain open.

John Clouse of the Health Department’s Air Pollution Control Division said an anonymous tip had caused the Health Department and federal Environmental Protection Agency to send investigators to the mall.

Asbestos, banned as a building product eight years ago because of health concerns, was found in a construction area in the south end of the 13-year-old mall, Clouse said.

Asbestos was banned in 1979 after it was linked to asbestosis, a lung disease that was thought to be a cause of cancer.

Stores were shut down by Thursday afternoon, including a Sears store that anchors the south end of the mall. While the Sears has outside access, it is adjacent to the construction area where the asbestos was found, officials said.

Dr. Ellen Mangione, director of disease control and environmental epidemiology with the Health Department, said she was not concerned with people casually passing through the mall.

″My concern is primarily for the workers who may have been exposed to much higher levels,″ she said.

On Tuesday, the Health Department halted construction work, which had been under way about a week, officials said.

Mall manager Bob Aptaker said he expects the mall to reopen Saturday, but Clouse would not say whether that would be possible.

Clouse said the asbestos found in Southglenn Mall is chrysotile, a common asbestos used in the past for insulation.