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The Search for Asbestos

During the months of February and March a third party will be searching all PLNU campuses for suspicious materials that could contain asbestos. According to Dan Toro, head of campus facilities, each search or survey takes about two hours to conduct. That means for a dorm building like Nease Hall, it could take two to three weeks to search the entire building.  

The surveys aren’t invasive and shouldn’t displace any students or staff members, Toro said. The surveys do take a look at“suspicious material,” which is material made with asbestos containing fibers. Materials such as popcorn ceiling or the adhesive on older tiles can contain asbestos. The fibers alone don’t pose a threat and for the most part are relatively safe. 

It’s only when those potentially suspicious materials are messed with, i.e. peeled up or picked off, that they become a danger, according to Toro. They become a danger when exposed and airborne. If these fibers are disturbed and breathed in, they become an “irritant to the lungs” according to Dr. Charles Hardison, the PLNU on campus doctor who works in the wellness center. If someone is a smoker, breathing in these fibers increases the chance of getting lung cancer down the road. It’s because of those risks that PLNU and other government regulated buildings are being precautionarily surveyed. Toro said the No. 1 goal is “trying to meet that idea of a healthy environment for everyone on campus.” 

According to Hardison, “it’s relatively safe now for surveyors” because of better technology, resources and methods for the surveys. The surveyors are able to use protective suits and different methods to biopsy small sections of suspicious material to test for asbestos fibers.

Sophomore Finance major, Einya Densmore said she supported the asbestos inspection.

  “Now that we know more about the different health risks because of asbestos and the tendency of asbestos to stay in the air during construction, I think it’s important to be preventative and make sure things are well documented,” Densmore said.  

Toro estimates the surveys should be completed and the data available by the end of March. For more information on asbestos, Toro recommends checking out the EPA’s website and the Air Pollution Control District or APCD’s website.

Written By: Ally Andre