The recent demolition of the Worcester State Hospital Kirkbride got me thinking about asbestos and other dangerous materials lingering inside old abandoned buildings. Most of you who visit these places on a regular basis know all about this issue already, but I thought I’d write some words of caution for those who aren’t aware of it. If you’re planning on visiting Kirkbrides, you should know about this.
Back when asbestos was still considered a sort of miracle substance, it was was widely used throughout buildings to prevent the spread of fire. Its natural resistance to heat made it a popular fireproofing material. It was used in shingles, cement, wall-board, floor tiles, adhesives, joint compounds, siding, and as insulation for steam pipes. Most abandoned Kirkbride buildings contain at least some of this substance, if not a lot. It’s not uncommon to see warnings attached to these buildings declaring the presence of asbestos (see above photo from Danvers State Hospital). (more…)