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Beware of asbestos on campus

By Naomi Santana and Vyctorya Thomas-Vanzant

The first thing many students notice when coming to CI are the abandoned buildings. Knowing the past of the school, it’s not uncommon that students want to explore these parts of campus for a glimpse of history, for the thrill or out of simple curiosity. However mysterious these buildings may seem it’s best to steer clear of them. This isn’t just because it’s a rule of the university, but also because of the potential health risks caused by the lingering asbestos inside.

According to the Mesothelioma and Asbestos Awareness Center (MAAC), asbestos can be found in more than 3,000 consumer products. Because of its durability, heat and chemical resistance, asbestos has been utilized in many products including car brakes, insulation, construction materials, roof shingles, glues and piping.

Researchers have discovered that when asbestos materials are damaged, microscopic fibers can be released into the air. This can cause dangerous exposures and inhaling these thin, microscopic fibers may lead to serious health problems such as mesothelioma. Other types of diseases that a person can be exposed to are lung cancer and asbestosis, according to the MAAC.

“Asbestos refers to a group of fibrous, heat-resistant minerals known as silicates,” said Peer Gerber, Director of Environmental Health and Safety. ”Asbestos fibers are soft, flexible, durable and heat and chemical resistant.” Gerber provided information on what asbestos is, what diseases asbestos may cause, where asbestos can be found on campus and explained that asbestos is “derived from the

Greek meaning indistinguishable or indestructible”. The CI Environmental Health and Safety office produces an annual Asbestos and Lead Based Paint notification. This notification provides a general listing of areas where asbestos containing materials can be found on campus. Some of the areas where asbestos can be found include multiple rooms in Arroyo Hall, Bell Tower, Chaparral Hall, El Dorado, amongst others.

Some of the precautions Gerber mentioned include avoiding touching asbestos containing materials (ACM) or presumed asbestos containing materials (PACM) on walls, ceiling, pipes or boilers. Gerber recommended not drilling holes, hanging objects from walls or ceilings, pipes or boilers and not disturbing ACM or PACM while changing light bulbs.

If faculty or staff find ACM or PACM that has been damaged it is important for them to report it to the Environmental Health and Safety office immediately.

Asbestos can pose a health threat if the fibers become airborne, but at CI, inspection, operation and maintenance protocols have been established to prevent this from happening.

For more information and a complete list on where asbestos can be found on campus, visit public safety website on the CSUCI webpage.

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