Recently, asbestos was found to be present in a dormitory building on Harvard's campus. The Winthrop House, which is the residence for over 400 Harvard students, was built in 1912. Given the age of the Winthrop House, it is no surprise that asbestos was present in the building materials.
The recent finding occurred when Harvard student and Winthrop resident, Matthew Walker (Class of 2016), found that a chunk of plaster had fallen from the ceiling within his closet, "scattering dust over his clothes." The plaster tested positive for asbestos.
Walker had to throw away all of his belongings and clothing in the closet, and moved to another location for a period of time. The closet was repaired and other rooms were determined to be asbestos-free before Walker moved back into his room. Winthrop House Masters, Stephanie Robinson and Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. said in a statement that "no students or staff members in the House are exposed to asbestos in ways that would break building codes."
The House is scheduled to be renovated during the 2016-2017 academic year. We hope that no other students are exposed to asbestos due to deteriorating conditions in the meantime.