SPRINGFIELD, ILL.–(ENEWSPF)–July 29, 2011. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) closed the Schnucks grocery store at Sangamon Center North in Springfield Thursday, July 28, 2011 after discovering a contractor improperly removed and resurfaced flooring materials containing asbestos, which released fibers into the air. The asbestos fiber release has made the store unsafe for anyone to occupy and the store will be closed until testing indicates it is safe to reopen.
Although the extent of the contamination is not yet known, asbestos fibers could have contaminated produce or other goods being processed or packaged in the store such as meat, baked goods, salad bar or ready-to-eat-foods. The Sangamon County Health Department and the Illinois Department of Public Health recommend that people who have purchased produce or in-store packaged foods from the Schnucks at Sangamon Center North during the month of July place these items in a sealed bag to be thrown away. Canned products or items packaged outside the store should be wiped down with soap and water before opening. Bags used to carry items from the store should also be discarded.
At this time, IDPH does not anticipate that there would be any immediate health hazards to anyone from these exposures. Inhaling asbestos fibers from repeated exposures over time may cause asbestosis, a scarring of the lungs; or cancer of the lung, the lining of the abdominal cavity or the digestive system. IDPH would not expect effects like these from the possible exposures from the Schnucks store; however, wet wiping of canned products and packaged items will minimize any exposures that could occur when the packaging is disturbed during opening.
IDPH does not anticipate any immediate health hazards from having eaten foods from the Schnucks store, but the precautions described above should reduce potential hazards. Studies suggest that the majority of asbestos-related illnesses, including cancer, from ingestion require multiple exposures over time and do not present themselves for many years.
The improper removal of asbestos-containing material is still being investigated.
For more information about items bought at Schnucks, contact Schnucks Consumer Affairs Department at 800-264-4400.