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World Asbestos scare at U.S. Capitol hampers tourists, legislators

The sun rises behind the Capitol in Washington on March 11, 2014.

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Republican leaders of the House of Representatives said Thursday they are delaying the start of business due to an accident involving asbestos.

In a statement, House Speaker John Boehner said the House would not convene at 10 a.m. for morning business, but lawmakers were expected to convene at noon to begin legislative work.

A hazardous material response team was on site following an incident that began sometime around 2:30 a.m. to 3 a.m., Capitol Police said.

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The House Door and South Door were temporarily closed, Capitol Police said. Tours of the Capitol building were temporarily suspended, but tours of the visitor centre were not affected. The House Press Gallery was reopened later in the morning.

The Architect of the Capitol released a statement indicating the incident involves possible asbestos exposure.

"During ongoing asbestos abatement work there was a potential release affecting the House side of the Capitol," the statement read. "Samples have been collected to determine whether there was potential exposure."

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