As millions of new freshman pile into dorm rooms across the country, many do not stop to consider that asbestos might be present in their brand new bedroom or lecture hall. At the University of North Carolina, asbestos has been found to be present in seven residence halls since 2009.
While officials at the school claim that the asbestos is “contained and does not pose a health risk,” students are instructed to take special precautions not to disturb the asbestos that has been found to be present in walls, ceilings, and pipes within the rooms. Hanging items, such as posters and photos, and keeping loft beds three feet from the ceiling are just some suggestions given to students.
Students were not made aware of the asbestos in their residencies until they had moved into their new rooms.
“I think it would have been better to let everyone know (about the presence of asbestos) when applying for housing, because we are paying a lot of money to live on campus,” a student said.
Prolonged exposure to asbestos can cause serious respiratory problems and deadly diseases, like mesothelioma and lung cancer. Typically, victims of asbestos exposure are elderly males who handled the substance within blue collar trades, such as construction, but older buildings all over the country continue to expose young individuals today.
The latency period of a disease like mesothelioma can last anywhere from ten to fifty years, meaning some of these freshman might not see the consequences of exposure until long after graduation.
Did you recently send a child off to college? Did the state of the residential halls influence your son or daughter’s choice to live on campus?