The company removing the debris from the former Empire Hotel in Thunder Bay’s south-side downtown says asbestos in the collapsed building poses no risk to the public.

A sign at the site on Simpson Street warns passers-by of the presence of asbestos, but a supervisor with DRD construction says workers are taking care to wet the debris so dangerous particles are not released into the air.

"We usually use amended water, it's called," Rob Trystruha said. "You can use a [fabric softener] product or different things mixed with water, which will encapsulate the asbestos."

Trystruha said workers also keep the rubble covered during the drive to the landfill, where the asbestos is buried rather than left sitting in the open air.

"We're taking all precautions that this contamination doesn't get anywhere."

The building is being demolished after it had partially caved in.

Trystruha said there was asbestos in one of the walls of the building — but only a fraction of a per cent. Because the percentage is so low, he said there is no risk to the public.

He noted "asbestos can only be inhaled. You can't absorb it through your skin or eat it."

Workers are wearing masks and the sidewalk alongside the demolition site is closed. Pedestrians are being asked to walk on the other side of the street.