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Chunk of Wall Found to Contain Asbestos

November 28, 1989

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ People who have chunks of the Berlin Wall may be carrying more than a piece of history. They may be carrying asbestos, a state health official says.

When a German student at the University of Oklahoma returned from a holiday trip to his homeland with two small pieces of the wall, his host family saw what they believed was asbestos on one of the chunks.

They took it to the department where tests showed about 75 percent of it was filled with chrysotile-asbestos, said John Feero, laboratory supervisor of the department’s asbestos program.

Chrysotile-asbestos was commonly used in building materials, Feero said.

Whether the entire Berlin Wall contains the cancer-causing substance is unknown. The asbestos material could be isolated to just the piece examined by state officials, Feero said.

He said the risk of harm is slight, but any piece of the wall with asbestos should be kept in a sealed container.

″The danger is minuscule but it’s still not something that should be transported all over the place without proper precautions,″ Feero said ″You probably wouldn’t want it sitting in the open.″

In the piece examined by state officials, the asbestos fibers were imbedded in the matrix, he said. Only by chipping, crushing or breaking it would those fibers be released into the air, Feero said.