A building on the campus of Humboldt State University closed down last week because of possible asbestos exposure, which puts the status of summer school classes in question. Inside the Science A building, chemistry department faculty members were busy installing computer ports on lab tables. However, they were forced to cease work when it was discovered sanding of the tables was releasing asbestos into the air.
The tables were partly composed of asbestos and sanding down the new ports created an unhealthy and dangerous situation for those in the building. Heating and cooling systems were shut down to avoid the spread of the dangerous fibers.
Paul Mann, public information officer, said the measure was taken as a precaution – to ensure faculty who may be unaware of the incident were prevented from entering the building until conditions were deemed safe. About two dozen people were found and asked to leave the building in the aftermath of the sanding mishap. After leaving, the doors were locked and warning signs were posted around the building. Asbestos has commonly been used in building materials for years, especially prior to 1980 in the U.S. Everything from ceiling tiles, pipe insulation, to flooring and drywall contained asbestos – so remodeling work has become dangerous in recent years as aging homes and buildings are worked on.
The school is working with a local industrial hygienist trained in indoor air quality sampling and investigating to determine if any airborne asbestos still exists in the building.
“Health and safety is our first priority for students and faculty,” said Dean of Extended Education Dan Hansen. “We’ll keep our fingers crossed.”