Friday, August 12, 2011

Asbestos in the Attic..or Basement

I hold my breath as I walk through the sauna of a stairwell. The asbestos abatement is in full swing in Peterson and somehow holding my breath will prevent the microfilaments from entering my lungs. Reaching the landing I gasp, inhaling all those particles I worked so hard to avoid.

The air conditioning has been shut off, while I imagine a giant vacuum hose outside is sucking the undoubtedly asbestos laden insulation from the interior of the cinder-block walls. Probably this is not how it works. And theoretically speaking, I think we aren’t supposed to be in the building, but nothing stops Dr. Bob from getting down to work in his 329 Peterson office. Not even hazardous silicate minerals.

Upon further investigation of the history and usage of asbestos I have discovered the following primarly on Wikipedia. Coming from the Greek word meaning unquenchable, asbestos in one of six silicate minerals. Used for its tensile strength, fire retardant ability and sound absorption the U.S. asbestos industry began in 1858. Until recently this tricky substance was used in automobiles, to wrap ship pipes, bulletproof vests, cigarette filters, plaster and artificial snow. Even now, it has not been made illegal in the United States, though it is listed amongst hazardous air pollutants.

Unfortunately for Peterson hall, when it was built in the 1960s, asbestos use was in full swing. By the time school begins, Peterson will be in ship shape—but a friendly piece of advice: don’t lick the walls.

- Emily