At almost 50 years old, the building has undergone a major renovation, including asbestos abatement, since November 2016, and in the past two months tests have shown asbestos-containing dust in several labs, The Globe and Mail reported last week. Two labs remain closed.
The University, located in Ontario, Canada, is receiving criticism from teacher and student organizations over claims the school did not properly notify those whose health could be affected. “We’ve advised our members that they should not enter the building, for any reason, until further notice,” Ryan Culpepper, chair of union CUPE 3902, said to the news source. “We’ve also advised them to file an incident-exposure report…and to go see their doctors, because we don’t know at this point the extent of the contamination.”
The pattern of unusual dust appearing in labs apparently started at the beginning of the year, and at least two of the three reported instances since January are likely linked to dust escaping during abatement procedures. When dust was found, “it was unclear as to whether the labs were hazardous for them to re-enter,” Andrea Constantin of the Graduate Students’ Union said.
Scott Mabury, vice-president of university operations, said communication could have been better over the last few weeks and some mistakes were made when sealing the work areas, but asbestos dust has not been found in any common areas, classroom lecture areas or teaching areas. The University noted that all of the more than 200 air quality samples taken since renovations began are “well below” the occupational-exposure limit for asbestos.