Renovations in Bunce Hall uncover asbestos, leading to closure

Students will no only be in Bunce Hall for any classes as the university handles the asbestos issue while renovating the 100 year-old building. - Contributor / Jared Mattio

Renovations at Bunce Hall have made it necessary to remove asbestos that is located in old
layers of floor tile.

According to Andrew Oakley, assistant vice president of Capital Facilities Construction, the Environmental Health and Safety Department and Facilities Operations have been aware of the asbestos. The university has decided to go ahead with removal prior to starting a planned renovation on the third floor.

“This flooring encompassed the entire third floor and was elected for removal to accommodate the new flooring that will be installed as part of the third-floor renovation, instead of adding another layer of flooring on top of the existing flooring,” said Oakley.

Abatement, the complete removal of the asbestos, is necessary once the affected area is
disturbed in any way. The work must be overseen by the Environmental Health and Safety

Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals that are resistant to heat and corrosion. Because of these qualities, it was commonly used in building materials. The Environmental Protection Agency investigated the harmful effects of asbestos exposure and, in 1989, banned its use in all new construction. If asbestos fibers are inhaled, it may increase the risk of several serious diseases, including asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer.

The entire work area is sealed off, therefore “creating a negative air chamber,
filtering the air through a HEPA filter to ensure that no asbestos fibers leave the work area.”

A state permit was required and ensured that a third party oversees the procedure. As of the publication
of this article, removal has been completed on half of the third floor, and removal is planned for
the second half of the third floor during the week of Oct. 27.

Rowan’s Student Government Association (SGA) was contacted in order to get a student
perspective on this issue. Emma Redmond, assistant vice president of Facilities and
Operations, stated that she had met with the Facilities and Operations Task Force prior to a
September Senate Meeting. At that time, she was informed of the asbestos problem.

“All the classes in Bunce were temporarily affected for the first week or so of classes. They were then able to make some classroom areas safe enough for the students to resume in Bunce Hall,” Redmond said.

She went on to say that The College of Foreign Languages has permanently moved locations in
order to “reduce the strain on the amount of classes getting relocated.” To the best of Redmond’s
knowledge, the goal is to have the remaining cleanup completed by the end of the fall semester.

She also added that the office of University President Dr. Ali Houshmand is supposed to be
renovated and housed in Bunce Hall as well.

Fortunately, few classes were scheduled to take place in Bunce this Fall. Oakley stated that
a few ESL and Theater classes are now meeting in Bunce, after the completion of the first half
of the abatement.

Redmond was not aware of any individual student complaints about the asbestos issue at
Bunce. If any student does have concerns, they could attend an SGA Senate meeting. They
take place every other Monday night in the Eynon Ballroom in the Student Center.

Asbestos warnings are posted on all exterior doors of the academic building and it is off limits till further notice. – Contributor / Jared Mattio

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