Fear of Asbestos Exposure Closes Ohio University Building

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A construction accident at Brasee Hall on Ohio University’s Lancaster Campus closed the building last week due to fears that those who entered might be exposed to airborne asbestos fibers.

According to an account in the Lancaster (OH) Eagle-Gazette, workers for an outside contractor were installing new stair treads in a stairwell of Brasee Hall late Friday morning, August 24, when they accidentally sanded some floor tiles. The sanding could have released asbestos into the air, said Jennifer LaRue, a spokeswoman for the university.

“Immediately, activity stopped because we did not know what we were dealing with,” LaRue said. “Dean Janosik made the decision to close the building because she wanted to be cautious and allay any concerns.”

Though there were no classes scheduled for the hall on Friday or over the weekend, the university posted warning signs at the building’s main entrance and sent emails to the entire student, staff, and faculty population, informing them of the potential asbestos contamination.

The school immediately notified a private environmental company to begin performing air quality tests. Those tests revealed the material did contain asbestos but found no evidence of the mineral in the air. The new stair treads should stop this problem from happening again because they will contain the asbestos, according to LaRue.

“I am pleased that the air quality tests came out negative,” David Hopka, assistant vice president of safety and risk management, said in a press release Monday.