Asbestos Found in Brooklyn College
On Brooklyn College’s bucolic campus, located in the middle of the busy New York borough, students have seen signs popping up everyone, proclaiming the presence of asbestos.
They’re not hard to miss, says a writer for the student paper, The Excelsior, because they’ve appeared in some of the busiest places on campus, including in the Library Café, three academic buildings, and the Whitman Theater.
Most of all, the signs have caused plenty of alarm, with students wondering whether or not they should even enter these buildings without some sort of protection.
It turns out, however, that Brooklyn College is an institution that’s actually doing the right thing as far as asbestos is concerned.
Though there are no asbestos abatement projects currently happening at the mostly-commuter college that’s part of New York’s city university system, due to guidelines by the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, these notices must be placed and remain in place for the entire duration of any sort of construction project.
Actual asbestos removal may only be a minuscule part of the project.
“For instance, an abatement notice posted on June 1 may require work to be completed by Oct. 31, but the actual work takes three days and is completed by Sept. 1,” explained Francis Fitzgerald, the college’s Vice President of Facilities Planning and Operations.
“It’s very project-dependent,” he added, noting that abatement projects can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks.
Brooklyn College’s current campus in the Midwood section of Brooklyn was constructed beginning in 1932, an era when asbestos use was certainly rampant.
The college still appears much as it was at the time of construction, but no doubt many projects have taken place that involve the manipulation of asbestos materials.
However, no plans are in place to do a sweeping asbestos removal project.
“Wholesale removal of all asbestos-containing building materials is not our objective nor is it recommended by anyone in the field of health and safety,” Fitzgerald wrote in an email. “If asbestos-containing material is in good condition, it is safest to leave it in place.”
It’s important for students to remember, the author writes, that if the conditions in regards to asbestos were unsafe, the college would close the buildings in question.
In the meantime, the college’s facilities department makes use of “negative air” machines that suction air through special filters to eliminate asbestos particles.
These are used anywhere that asbestos is a concern.
While Brooklyn College is keen on doing the right thing, that’s not always the case. Anyone who is concerned about asbestos removal without the use of proper precautions should report such actions to their local EPA or Department of Environmental Protection for inspection.
Above all, anyone who believes they are being exposed to asbestos during a construction project should refuse to enter the area until they are assured that the air they breathe is free of toxic particles.