Report confirms asbestos levels

By Erin Moll

An annual asbestos survey has been completed, confirming the
presence of asbestos containing building materials in certain
buildings on campus.

“It’s important that students and faculty are aware of the
locations where asbestos is located, but there is no reason to be
unduly concerned,” said David Patterson, director of environmental
health and safety.

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that was used commonly in a variety
of building construction materials for insulation and as a
fire-retardant, according to

Danger only becomes an issue if students and faculty are in
close proximity to asbestos and inhaling the particles.

“If you aren’t breathing in asbestos fibers, you can’t get
sick,” said Patterson. “The majority of the asbestos is not in
areas where people are exposed. You must have exposure to get

It has only recently been discovered that asbestos can cause
disease if inhaled.

“By 1978 there were 6 million tons of asbestos in the United
States that saved many lives,” said Patterson. “It was used as an
excellent tool for fire proofing and insulating material.”

Although an asbestos survey has been completed, asbestos has
been in buildings on campus for many years.

“Asbestos has been here on campus for a long time,” said
Patterson. “It was first discovered during testing about 25 years
ago. Procedures for removal were set up and notices were sent out
to students and faculty notifying them of the discoveries.”

Even though the asbestos on campus is not harmful to students or
faculty because it is in unoccupied areas, steps are being taken to
ensure everyone’s safety.

“At the present time, there are no particular areas where
asbestos is particularly harmful,” said Patterson. “If we are to
discover an area where it becomes a danger to the public, we would
have a licensed and registered contractor come onto campus and
remove the asbestos properly.”

Cuong La, a fourth-year biotechnology student, said he feels
safer knowing there is no prevalent danger to worry about.

“I had not heard about asbestos being on campus, but it makes me
feel better knowing that we aren’t in danger,” said La. “As long as
faculty are making students aware, then I feel safe. I think
students would appreciate knowing about the safety reports.”

The reports’ findings indicate there is little cause for alarm,
but there are still concerns that asbestos is located on

“You can get cancer from inhaling asbestos,” said Elaine Nguyen,
a fourth-year chemistry student. “It still worries me to know that
there is asbestos on campus because the problem could become

If asbestos needed to be removed, it would be handled very
carefully and safely.

“First, we would relocate occupants in the building where
asbestos is being removed, seal the area with plastic, and use a
negative air machine with a high-efficiency particle air filter,”
said Patterson. “Contractors would be monitoring the air outside
the building to ensure that no particles would escape the space,
and the material would then be bagged and taken to a licensed
disposal facility.”

Patterson encourages students to keep up to date with safety
notifications so they are always aware of what is going on around

“People should follow safety e-mails and can even check the
Environmental Health and Safety website, located at,” said Patterson.

Patterson added that student and faculty safety is

“Protecting students and faculty is our number-one priority,”
said Patterson. “Safety procedures are in place.”

Report confirms asbestos levels

Greg Toumassian / The Poly Post

Report confirms asbestos levels

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