Asbestos removal underway in LL building

Asbestos removal is underway in the Tempe campus's Durham Language and Literature Building following a flood in September. (Photo by Jenn Allen)

Asbestos removal is underway in the Durham Language and Literature building on the Tempe campus after a Sept. 29 flood damaged several areas, including the building’s fifth floor.

ASU Environmental Health and Safety coordinator Robert Ott said the damages did not release any asbestos into the air.

However, ASU has decided to remove asbestos in the affected areas of the building to better clean and repair them.

“Whenever there is an incident such as a water leak that may potentially damage material that could contain asbestos, we take every precaution to ensure there is no exposure to the ASU community,” Ott said.

ASU only removes asbestos from a building if absolutely necessary because removal is costly, Ott added.

English instructor Amy Shinabarger moved her office hours from the LL building to Hayden Library and the College Avenue coffee shop Cupz Coffee after the flood because she suffers from chronic respiratory issues and asthma.

“(I) avoided the building like the plague until we had clear information from the Environmental Quality Team that asbestos and mold readings were safe,” she said.

Still, when Shinabarger re-entered the building Oct. 3, she experienced an immediate and severe asthmatic reaction.

“I believe (the reaction) was to a drying agent or some other chemical used during cleanup,” Shinabarger said. “I have a similar reaction to chalk and baby powder, where I can actually feel the particles in my lungs.”

Shinabarger said she moved her Oct. 4 classes online so she could stay home to receive nebulizer treatments.

She re-entered the LL building on Oct. 8 and has not experienced any problems since, but her office was moved from the fifth floor to the third floor.

“I really do suspect LL is a sick building in general … but, as much as I hate to say it, I think those of us in LL have accepted the health risk as a part of our jobs,” Shinabarger said.

Ott said air sampling was conducted to ensure the ASU community was not exposed to asbestos containing materials and added there have been no complaints from the ASU community regarding asbestos in the LL building.

“Any time an ASU faculty or staff member has a concern about indoor air quality, we encourage them to contact the Facilities Development and Management Office or Environmental Health and Safety,” Ott said.

Shinabarger, who did not file a complaint, said she thinks some employees are concerned that if they complain, it will affect job retention.

Founder of the ASU student chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, Carina Clark said her undergraduate living experience on campus at ASU inspired her to get her master’s in design for healthcare and healing environment.

Clark, 24, was evacuated from her McClintock Hall dorm room in 2009 because there was mold growing on her bathroom ceiling.

“I was getting pretty sick (and) light-headed, and I kept myself up at night coughing,” Clark said. “I had a secondary medical condition, which my doctor attributed to the mold.”

She said she has had no problems with the secondary condition since she moved out of the dorm.

“The new buildings ASU is putting up look great, and it is awesome they are all LEED certified,” Clark said in an email. “But how great is the campus when so many other buildings are having asbestos, mold and simple building issues that are being fixed (hap)-hazard?”

A list of buildings containing asbestos and further information regarding the ASU asbestos management program can be found on the ASU environmental health and safety website.


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