Asbestos Release Sends Cal Poly Faculty Scrambling
Members of the faculty at California Polytechnic State University had to quickly evacuate Tuesday when a construction activity in the administration building caused the sudden release of asbestos fibers, reports the local newspaper, The Tribune.
According to an email by the Facilities Management and Development department, the accidental release happened on the 2nd floor of the Grand Avenue building, prompting officials to demand evacuation.
The building then closed to the public and remains closed while the problem is investigated and the debris cleaned up. There is hope that the building will re-open by the end of the week.
In the meantime, Cal Poly sent test samples of the air to a lab in nearby Hayward and were told that no asbestos was detected in the air on any of the five floors of the building in question.
Nonetheless, all air filters in the building have now been replaced to avoid future spread of asbestos dust that may have collected on old filters.
An email sent to the entire campus community yesterday stated that “the remediation contractor cleaned the area above and below the ceiling on the second floor in the location that was directly affected by the construction work.”
“The surrounding area was inspected by environmental consultants, in addition to inspections on all other floors of the building, to confirm that there were no other areas of contamination,” the statement explained.
An additional email from Facilities Management and Development to faculty and staff added that crews were being “abundantly cautious” when they decided to close the entire building until further investigation and cleanup could be performed, the newspaper article explained.
It’s not unusual for older colleges to have infrastructures that include asbestos. The material was long used as insulation and was also added to other building products because it increased durability and decreased the chance of fires.
Long lauded for its fire-resistant properties, the toxic mineral was used for decades before its use was essentially halted around 1980.
Nonetheless, asbestos use still has not been banned in the United States, despite the fact that nearly five dozen other countries around the world have issued full bans, including all 28 countries in the European Union.
The current administration seems to defend the use of the mineral, so it seems likely that no ban will be instituted until after Donald Trump leaves office.