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Parents Worry About Children's Health As Crews Test Asbestos In City Playground

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Residents are raising health concerns after watching people wearing hazmat suits test for and remove asbestos from a playground on the Lower East Side.

Some told CBS2's Lisa Rozner they are gravely worried about their children's health.

Signs warning of asbestos, a cancer and lung disease hazard, hang in the playground of the city-run Seward Park Houses on Broome Street.

"Concerning for parents that have children. I have grandkids that come and visit," resident Elizabeth Muscarelli told Rozner.

But they're not visiting now. The slides and swings are off-limits, because the building is being decontaminated.

Construction workers are re-pointing bricks, disturbing the toxic substance and sending it into the air. Inside white tents, workers remove their hazmat suits and there's even a shower.

"If they're going in there with the masks and the jumpsuits, why don't we have masks and jumpsuits?" asked resident Sage Lambert. "I don't think it's fair."

Resident Lilly Martinez: "Who's coming out to check our air quality?"

Rozner: "Did you ask them if you're safe here?"

Martinez: "Yeah, and there's no answer."

The New York City Housing Authority told CBS2 a third-party regularly tests the air quality and the results are within state limits. A spokesperson told Rozner the playground was picked for the decontamination tents because of a lack of outdoor space.

The union representative for the construction workers says the signs and red caution tape are a precaution.

"It doesn't become airborne, it's just a safety measure," said Tim Sabovic, of Shop Steward Local 79.

Meanwhile, people who live there are taking their own safety measures by closing their windows.

Lambert said she babysits and is keeping her kids far away.

"I take them to the park down the block now. I have no choice," she said.

Children should be able to use the playground by Saturday, but some residents say they'd rather play it safe than expose their kids to potential poison.

Before kids are allowed back, NYCHA says a contractor will wash down the playground and test the air quality.

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