Volume 93, Issue 4
Wednesday, May 28, 1999
Western removes toxic substance
By Jocelyn Laparte and Paul-Mark Rendon
Summer renovations to the Social Science Centre have aroused some concern over potentially hazardous asbestos dust.
Dave Riddell, director of the physical plant at Western, confirmed asbestos was being removed from the basement computer lab area as part of renovations for the current space realignment project, designed to provide classrooms throughout campus.
Asbestos is a material used to insulate and fireproof buildings which has been proven to be harmful to the lungs, said Josephine Castiglione, an inquiry officer at the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.
Castiglione said if airborne asbestos fibres are inhaled, serious damage to the lungs can occur.
Riddell said the removal of the asbestos is being performed in accordance with occupational health and safety regulations, such as monitoring the air quality during and after removal to ensure the safety of workers and other people in the area. "We don't feel we're creating any danger for any occupants. We feel we have removal techniques down pretty well," he said.
Greg Moran, Western's acting president, said this is not the first instance of asbestos elimination, as renovations to several other buildings on campus have had the same requirement. "We frequently have to deal with asbestos removal," he said.
Moran also said every measure was being taken to ensure the safety of the staff, students and workers in the area. "I have every faith the rules are being respected," he said.
Students in the nearby computer labs had mixed reactions to the construction.
"I'm just surprised that in the late 1990s there would still be asbestos in a building. I thought they would be more contemporary," said Patti-Ann Finlay, a student in the masters of journalism program.
"I think it's terrible given the type of facility this is," she added.
Mark MacAulay, a sociology graduate student, said he was not at all concerned about any possible hazard. "No, I'm not worried. I'm far more likely to be hit by a car on the way home than I am to suffer from asbestos."
Copyright © The Gazette 1999