The state has reprimanded the downtown Hilton Hotel for failing to file a cleanup plan and notify Utah and Salt Lake officials of asbestos removal in the hotel, authorities said Friday.

The Utah Bureau of Air Quality found out about the asbestos removal when a Salt Lake County Health Department official got off on the wrong floor, said Burnell Cordner, Air Quality director."They wanted to put in a sprinkling system, and in doing that, they had some insulation in the halls they had to remove. And apparently they didn't think there was any asbestos in it and hired a contractor," Cordner said.

"They have already done floors four through eight" when the state found out about it and tested samples from the completed areas. "We just took the stuff that was laying around."

Asbestos is a known carcinogen that formerly was used in some insulation. The tiny, thread-like strands are easily inhaled and can cause irritation to the lungs. Extensive exposure can cause lung cancer.

"The longer the exposure the more likelihood you're going to have a problem. Even exposure for small periods can cause problems," Cordner said.

The state has filed a notice of violation against the Hilton, 150 W. Fifth South. Company officials could not be reached for comment.

The notice alleges the hotel failed to file a removal plan and notify state and local officials about the asbestos.

The state is in charge of ensuring outside air quality is not impaired by the cleanup, while Salt Lake County oversees inside air quality.

Additionally, precautions must be taken to ensure the asbestos is removed and disposed of properly and workers are protected. "And apparently they didn't know what it was. They didn't do those things or notify the county health department," Cordner said.

Fines or penalties, if any, assessed against the Hilton will be worked out this later this spring.