Central Michigan University Closes Building After Asbestos Discovery
As the school year draws to an end, numerous Central Michigan University employees are working from a different location on campus, and some from home, after Warriner Hall was forced to evacuate due to an asbestos issue.
The problem was discovered May 29th, when staff at the University’s Office of Risk Management and Environmental Health and Safety were told there were elevated levels of asbestos in the first and second floors of Warriner. All employees and visitors were asked to immediately leave the building.
Samples were taken May 28th from the building when people working on the water lines found insulation and old pipes in a crawl space inside of a large air duct. The building has been in use since 1928.
The relocation of employees is temporary until the college is able to properly deal with the asbestos. Provost Mike Gealt acknowledges the relocation of 169 employees is merely precautionary. The school is waiting for environmental consultants to provide an all-clear announcement once further testing is complete.
Cleanup and Testing is Underway
The most recent round of testing, conducted by environmental consulting firm Fibertec, showed the air to be clear with the exception of the air duct under the Plachta Auditorium, where asbestos had been disturbed. Further testing of dust also came back clear, except for the first floor lobby near the auditorium and a portion of the tunnel system.
Also working with the college is asbestos abatement contractor HBC. The company was called on to remove the damaged asbestos from the duct system and clean the auditorium and lobby. Once the cleanup is complete new tests will be conducted to ensure safety.
Asbestos Increases Risk for Developing Deadly Diseases
Asbestos is a natural mineral fiber that was once used in insulation and to protect against fire. Over the years it was discovered that asbestos, when its small particles are inhaled, can be dangerous. When undisturbed, asbestos rarely poses a problem, but when cleaning, demolition, renovations, or other issues jostle the fibers they become air born and are easily inhaled. Breathing in the particles can cause them to become lodged in the lungs, leading to the eventual development of lung disease and mesothelioma cancer.
Mesothelioma is a rare and extremely dangerous form of cancer. It is extremely aggressive and rarely caught early enough to treat effectively. Exposure to asbestos is the primary risk factor for mesothelioma. Smoking further increases that risk.
Using asbestos has been banned for most purposes, but many older buildings, like Warriner Hall, still contain asbestos.
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