Asbestos was used widely in building products until the 1970s. Because of the age of the University's buildings, it is estimated that there is asbestos in approximately 75% of the buildings on campus.
Asbestos fibers are found in normal outdoor air in both urban and suburban areas. There is a background level of asbestos in our environment that we are in contact with daily. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tests determined that asbestos levels in the air in buildings with asbestos-containing materials—regardless of whether those materials are in "good" or in "bad" condition—are at or near asbestos levels in outdoor air.
University Housing and Asbestos
University Housing has been removing and encapsulating asbestos for several years and has expended more than $1.25 million on asbestos abatement. A room-by-room survey conducted by an independent environmental consulting firm found that many residence halls and some apartment complexes have some form of asbestos-containing material, usually in the insulation on piping or holding tanks. The surveys also indicated that the condition and location of the asbestos materials is such that they do not pose a hazard for residents. This information has been used for planning and implementing remedial projects.
Program activities include labeling all piping and tank insulation to indicate the presence or absence of asbestos, monitoring asbestos-related research, and assuring that service staff knows where asbestos is and how to manage it.
Recognizing that occasions will continue to arise that require an immediate response, Housing has made arrangements with a reputable asbestos abatement firm to be available on 24-hour notice. This enables Housing to immediately address high priority hazards.
If you suspect an asbestos hazard…
If you believe or suspect that there is damaged and exposed asbestos in a University Housing facility, please contact FIXIT(online FIXIT system.) immediately.
There are three methods for treating asbestos materials: removal, encapsulation or enclosure. Removing asbestos is very expensive. It is estimated that it would cost millions of dollars to remove and replace the asbestos in Housing's buildings. Given the low-risk hazard and limited available resources, Housing administrators have opted for an asbestos containment approach rather than removal. This approach is consistent with the recommendation of the EPA; that is, leave undamaged and protected asbestos in place. When buildings undergo major renovations, most asbestos is removed.
To learn more, visit the U-M OSEH website.
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