BY DAN BRODHEAD
County College of Morris had a toxin scare over spring break when asbestos was discovered in DeMare Hall.
In DeMare Hall Suite 100, asbestos was found in non-friable floor tiles. The removal began on Monday, March 13 and completed on Wednesday, March 15 by Jupiter Environmental Services Inc. A third-party firm, Whitman Companies Inc., monitored work and provided air sampling tests and results to ensure there was no airborne asbestos during renovation.
Asbestos is the name given to a group of materials that occur naturally in the environment as bundles of fibers that can be separated into thin, durable threads. These fibers do not conduct electricity, and are resistant to heat, fire and chemicals. For these reasons, they were often desirable to construction companies.
The potential for an asbestos-containing product to release breathable fibers depends on the degree of friability. Friable means that the material can be crumbled with hand pressure and can release fibers. Friable fibers can be found in fireproofing, insulation and soundproofing materials. Non-friable materials can be found in floor tiles and roofing, unless aggressive operations such as sanding or sawing are performed in which case the fibers are released.
“At the beginning of the work, the fire alarm was inadvertently set off by a carpet removal tool overheating a patch of the old carpet” said Karen VanDerhoof, vice president of business and finance at CCM. “When the space was reopened, there was an odor from the citrus based cleaner that was noticed in the building. Thanks to it being quickly reported, the area was resealed and an exhaust fan was installed to further ventilate the space.”
Asbestos is fairly common in older buildings in floor tiles and pipe elbows, according to Glenn Hamilton, college architect and director of facilities planning at CCM.
“CCM has performed an asbestos inventory in November of 2000, which is updated as we remove asbestos during construction and renovation work,” Hamilton said. “All Plant and Maintenance staff are trained in OSHA asbestos awareness each year. The next training session is scheduled for October 6, 2017.”
The renovation of DeMare Hall Suite 100, where the old music department was located, removed all remaining traces of asbestos. Hamilton said that the area is safe for students to be around.
“Everyone is exposed to asbestos at some time during their life,” Hamilton said. “Low levels of asbestos are present in the air, water, and soil.”