Some time ago, we brought you a story about asbestos problems at California’s Chico State University. As colleges and universities across the country upgrade their aging buildings, these problems are becoming more prevalent.
Currently, Louisiana State University has 300 buildings on its campus that are anywhere from 30 to 60 years old. As renovations progress on these buildings, areas of exposed asbestos are appearing with greater and alarming frequency. According to Michael Hooks, LSU’s Assistant Director of Occupational and Environmental Safety, the problem is indicative of the times in which these buildings were constructed. “Asbestos was used in installation for floor tile, ceiling tile and fire proofing spray…it was used so frequently because it was cheap to abstract (sic) and cheap to put into the building,” he said. There is a particular concern for the dormitories, most of which were constructed between 1940 and 1970. Students have been cautioned to report any structural damage they may encounter, because asbestos is not always identifiable to the untrained eye. Other campus buildings where asbestos is exposed includes Pleasant Hall, the Veterinary Medicine and Music & Dramatic Arts buildings, the Pentagon dorms, McVoy Hall and the Huey P. Long Fieldhouse, the basement of which contains hazardous levels of asbestos.
In the meantime, Assistant Director of Environmental Maintenance Terry Grier assures students that there is no reason for undue panic. These asbestos occurrences are being taken care of as they are encountered according to Louisiana State Department of Environmental Quality standards. Students are skeptical, however. One student said: “There’s an asbestos-insulated pipe in the East Laville basement bathroom that is extremely dilapidated, with whole chunks missing. It’s been like that since I moved in mid-August,” adding cynically that he has yet to see any action taken on the issue since reporting it. A graduate teaching assistant wondered about warnings in Russell Hall, where her office is located. “I wonder if they are old or just something they haven’t gotten around to yet?” she pondered. Grier insists: “We know where the asbestos materials are, and we try to keep everybody safe…if there becomes a problem, we take care of it so no one is exposed to asbestos.”