'Haunted' buildings draw attention on Halloween, but could pose serious health risk

CANTON, Ohio - A shuttered and crumbling former hospital in northeastern Ohio has become a hazard as teenagers, vandals and ghost-hunters break into the asbestos-laden building, a problem exacerbated annually by Halloween.

It's a story you could find in plenty of locations across the nation: An old, dilapidated building the community believes is haunted by ghosts, and the thrill-seekers who want to get inside that building to see for themselves. But the buildings are not as safe as they once were.

The Molly Stark Hospital near Canton was shuttered in 1995 after 66 years of operations, ranging from a tuberculosis sanitarium in the 1930s and later to a hospital for the mentally ill.

The Canton Repository reports that the building is now a shambles, with an airborne asbestos problem so bad, specialists with the Environmental Protection Agency say no one should go inside without a respirator.

But every week, officials say maintenance workers have to replace wooden panels covering broken windows three to four times.

The primary culprits are teenagers, but also include people looking for scrap metal and ghost hunters.

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