Asbestos Found in Faculty Offices in Miguel

by August Kissel and Megan Dreher

Editor & Asst. Editor

When a building ages it becomes necessary that repairs are done in order to ensure that the building follows certain health codes. Manhattan College is no exception.

Over winter break, faculty offices were renovated due to professor request. As students were welcomed back to school for second semester, asbestos was discovered to be present in some of those offices in Miguel Hall.

Margaret Groarke, associate professor of the Government Department, discussed this issue in an email statement.

“Faculty on the 4th floor were told late last semester that our hallways would be renovated over the break. Thus we were unable to access our offices from Dec. 19 until just recently. The walls were painted, and the old carpet was replaced with new carpet. It took a little longer than expected, but I’m very much looking forward to seeing how nice it looks,” said Groarke.

During and prior to the renovation, it was discovered that there was asbestos under certain floor tiles.

Asbestos is an old form of insulation that is no longer used due to the fact that it can cause medical complications. It was often used with pipe insulation and floor tiles and was highly used in the 1970’s. Since then, it has been labeled as a health hazard and has led to cases of mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.

Vice President of Facilities, Andrew Ryan spoke of plans to clean up the asbestos.

“When we are doing work that is going to involve one of those two things (pipe insulation and floor tiles), we take a look, if it’s questionable we have a company come in to test. If it’s negative we can go about our business, if it’s positive we have to abate it,” said Ryan.

The college found that the asbestos test was positive and they took the proper precautions to remove the asbestos. This includes enclosing the work area completely in a plastic tent that is held under negative air pressure. By doing so, a vacuum pulls out the contaminated air and sends it outside so that it does not return into the space. The company also uses a monitor to watch the air quality and ensure that the area becomes asbestos free.

One professor in particular had a closer encounter with the asbestos.

Claudia Setzer, a Religious Studies professor, had her office renovated which called for the discovery of a long standing water leak. During the removal of floor tiles to fix the leak, a layer of asbestos was found underneath the floorboards.

“This was just one of many cases where they are trying to protect us from asbestos, which is part of every old building. In my case it was quite deeply buried under one of the layers of the floor. It wasn’t as if I was breathing it in or anything,” said Setzer.

Setzer’s office is not ready for her to move back in. For now, she is sharing an office with a colleague and is “expecting that it’s [the project] going to move along in the next few weeks.”

According to Andrew Ryan, there has been no health issues related to the asbestos so far.

Overall, renovations to the faculty offices have made for a nicer atmosphere.

“Hopefully, it will make the 4th floor a pleasanter place to work, and encourage more students to come visit their professors there!” said Groarke.