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Alcoa will test air quality at New York plant after asbestos discovery


Occupational safety officials will continue an investigation this week into possible asbestos contamination at an Alcoa plant in New York.


The dangerous mineral was found in ceiling tiles in the wake of an April 29 fire at the company’s Massena West plant. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating both the fire and the asbestos, which was contained in the ceiling.


According to AMM, an online trade publication, the company will conduct tests this week to determine whether asbestos from debris left by the fire was released into the air. Left alone, asbestos tiles are considered harmless. But when disturbed, the material can break apart and release microscopic fibers that can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer and other respiratory illness if inhaled.


An Alcoa representative told AMM that “all safety precautions are being taken to ensure the health and safety of our employees.”


The company, headquartered in Pittsburgh, has slowed production at the plant until the tests are completed.


“While a significant portion of the casthouse still remains closed due to structural integrity issues, Alcoa is focusing on getting accessible casting complexes up and running as safely and quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said.