Asbestos in Schools News for January 12th, 2009

In ELLENSBURG, WA, for the first time in ten years, Dean Hall at Central Washington University opened its doors to students in an opening ceremony on December 4, 2008. The renovations to Dean Hall removed the asbestos and heavy metal contaminates in the building. They also set the groundwork for the edifice to become the first in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified building. The green construction of Dean Hall will make it more energy efficient and inviting to students. Rather than dumping tons of construction debris into nearby landfills, 50 percent of the total and 75 percent of the building’s shell were reused. This also helped to cut costs on the renovations. Dean Hall has implemented many energy, and money, saving measures including devices to conserve water and electricity such as occupancy sensors and efficient lighting fixtures. Following the opening of Dean Hall, its doors opened to greet the new home to the university’s Department of Anthropology and Museum Studies, the Department of Geography, and Central’s interdisciplinary graduate program in resource management.

Included, too, in Dean Hall is an office suite for the dean of the College of the Sciences and a Museum of Culture and Environment on the first floor. In BOZEMAN, MT, Bozeman High School was closed following the discovery of asbestos in some of the classrooms. According to Superintendent Kirk Miller there was no danger to the students or staff, and the asbestos roofing material had no affect on the air quality, but the school chose not to take any chances and closed the portion of the building where the asbestos was found. A company out of Billings has already been contracted to remove and cleanup the asbestos. This process involved vacuuming the area with high-efficiency particulate air filters and wiping the area with damp cloths to collect any dust remaining on surfaces. The Billings, MT, company gave an estimate of two weeks for the project’s completion. The asbestos was found after it fell from the roof during a reroofing project in November 2008. Samples were sent to a lab, and the results given to the school on November 26, 2008, showed that there was an excessive amount of asbestos in the material — 5 percent. Air quality testing showed that there was no asbestos released from the material, but the school chose to close the area around the art room and the garage storage room where the asbestos was found. Those areas should reopen following the cleanup.