Asbestos in Dorms

NJ College Students Worry About Asbestos in Dorms

Rutgers University officials say they’ve been warning students for decades that there is asbestos in the ceiling of many dormitories on the campus, and even though the college’s administration says it’s safe, co-eds that attend the New Jersey state school continue to worry about their wellbeing.

Rutgers - asbestos in dormsIn a recent article in the school’s newspaper, a student reporter talks about the material that – if disturbed – could be inhaled and might eventually cause a serious lung-related disease such as mesothelioma.

The student identifies the following buildings as those that still contain asbestos: The Quads on Livingston campus, part of the Gibbons complex, Demarest Hall, Katzenbach Hall, Lippincott Hall, and Nicholas Hall.

Neal Buccino, the assistant director of public relations for the University, tells students and others concerned about the presence of asbestos that many buildings on campus were built prior to 1980, so avoiding the material is almost impossible.

However, the college has abated some of the asbestos in a number of different locations around the campus.

“The mere presence of asbestos is not hazardous, so long as the material is intact and undisturbed. The University provides notification letters to students residing in buildings with asbestos ceilings, to inform them about activities that must be avoided to prevent damage to the ceilings, and to request that they report any damage immediately in order to minimize potential exposure,” Buccino said in an email.

The written and verbal warnings to students, he says, have so far kept them from damaging the ceilings, where the asbestos is usually located.

In addition, the students are told that if they damage the ceiling or notice any disturbance of the asbestos materials, they should report it immediately.

They are also instructed not to hang plants or posters from or on the ceiling, to avoid hitting it with balls or other objects, and not to spray it with water or any other substances.

Rutgers assures students and parents that despite the large amount of asbestos on campus, they are indeed in control. They have a management plan in place and conduct regular visual inspections of any areas where asbestos materials are located.

They also conduct air sampling tests and train all maintenance staff to recognize the material.

Still, students need to be extra vigilant when living in an asbestos-containing space and should never treat the presence of the material lightly because inhaling even small amounts of asbestos fibers could cause potential harm.