Buckley Hall was inspected for damage that could release asbestos after a small amount was detected in one room.
A letter was sent to students in Buckley Hall informing them that all rooms would be inspected from Oct. 27 to Nov. 1 to check for any damage that could allow asbestos fibers into the air.
The letter said that university personnel would be checking to “reassess the material, ensure it is stable and undisturbed, and prevent any exposure risk.”
According to University of Connecticut spokesperson Stephanie Reitz, the inspections concluded that none of the rooms in Buckley would require immediate abatement, although small areas in a few rooms will be touched up with encapsulating paint to eliminate any future risk.
The letter to students said that a room in Buckley had a ceiling that contained 2% asbestos, contrary to previously collected data. Reitz noted that the room in which the disturbance was originally reported was tested again a week after the letter was sent out and no asbestos fibers were detected in the air.
“It’s important to note that asbestos exposure may occur only when the asbestos-containing material is disturbed or damaged in some way, which can release asbestos fibers into the air. Asbestos-containing materials that aren’t damaged or disturbed are unlikely to pose a health risk,” the letter said.
According to Reitz, UConn engaged a licensed environmental firm to check the conditions of the ceiling in every room in Buckley.
“Any unstable or damaged areas will be repaired or otherwise stabilized by EPA-certified personnel to prevent potential risk to the rooms’ occupants,” Reitz said.
Reitz also said that students who live in Buckley Hall have been informed of the situation through email, and will also be emailed if they need to be notified about any repairs.
The EPA-certified inspectors will also be conducting a new round of comprehensive sampling to reassess the ceiling for asbestos, according to Reitz.
Buckley Hall was constructed in 1969. According to the letter, it is not uncommon to find asbestos in buildings constructed around this time. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the use of asbestos was largely banned in 1989, two decades after Buckley Hall was built.
The UConn Residential Life website tells students to “presume all building materials contain asbestos unless otherwise determined by the Department of Environmental Health and Safety.”
The website also warns students against disturbing any materials that may contain asbestos and asks them to report any “observed damage or deterioration of suspect building material to the Assistant Director of Operations” immediately.
Reitz noted that the effects of asbestos usually take about 10 to 20 years to take effect, so she said that students should not attribute any current illnesses to asbestos.
“Unfortunately, respiratory illnesses are somewhat common at this time of year, especially in communal living spaces such as residence halls,” said Reitz. “That being the case, any illnesses that students may have experienced there would be unrelated to the potential presence of asbestos.”