The University of Montana posted new information on its website regarding asbestos found in the now-shuttered McGill Hall that housed a day care, but the 84-page document raises even more concerning questions.
The document offers details of an asbestos inspection at McGill Hall in 2011, apparently the last time the facility was inspected to see if it contained any materials that contained asbestos and whether those materials were damaged. This may cause the microscopic fibers of asbestos to go airborne, creating a risk for asbestos-related diseases including a rare form of cancer called mesothelioma.
The assessment involved testing of surfaces within the day care, some of which tested positive for asbestos. A follow-up report acquired by NBC Montana indicates that a company was hired to remediate the asbestos.
If that is the case, why was asbestos found in an air system within McGill Hall last December? The revelation prompted the school to test areas within the building to see if asbestos fibers were in the air. They discovered that the levels of asbestos contamination in the preschool far exceeded levels considered safe by federal standards. As a result, the University relocated two childcare centers and the rest of McGill Hall was evacuated while a cleanup is in effect. About 70 faculty, staff and students are affected.
Now faculty, staff, students and parents are concerned. It can take up to 50 years for asbestos cancer to develop. Once diagnosed, the disease generally proves fatal within one to two years.
The University has also been hit with 32 asbestos-related claims filed by faculty, staff and/or student workers.