SUNY Students Worry about Asbestos

Earlier this month, students who live in SUNY (State University of New York) New Paltz’s Crispell Hall dormitory got an e-mail from Crispell Hall Director Bobby Kavathas. It alerted the 250 residents to construction occurring on the campus dorm and said a drape would cover the entire third floor during construction. “Do not tamper with this cover in any way,” it said in all capital letters. Windows were to remain closed at all times, too. “This is for your safety,” Kavathas wrote.

But students at the New Paltz campus remain concerned about exposure to asbestos caused by shoddy construction practices at their dorm, says an article in the Times-Herald Record. While “Danger Asbestos” signs are printed on tape surrounding a cordoned-off dumpster outside the dorm, two chutes descending from the roof of the building are the cause of some concern, say students.

“There is dust coming off the building. There are people on the roof doing removal and it is not contained. It’s definitely going into the atmosphere,” said Jenna Dern, a junior who lives on the first floor of the dorm. “It is really creepy.”

In addition, the high temperatures that occurred last week prompted students to open their windows, allowing potentially dangerous dust to coat objects inside their dormitory rooms.

Campus spokesman Eric Gullickson said students are safe and notes that the asbestos involved in the roof replacement is in the glue under the metal flashings. The old roofing material does not contain asbestos, he said.

“Students have seen dust, but it is coming from the removal of concrete, not asbestos,” Gullickson said. The glue is “non-friable,” meaning it is less likely to break down and get into the air, he pointed out.

Dern notes, however, that non-friable asbestos is more prone to breakdown if it has been exposed to harsh weather and other extremes, such as those that would have occurred on the roof.

It can still get into the air if it is broken or sawed or sanded or cut. “I have heard banging,” from the construction, Dern told the newspaper. “The administration should be more transparent about what construction is going on and what is involved,” she said.

Leave a Reply