The University of Colorado will demolish a building on campus next year after a health audit exposed that it contained large amounts of asbestos, which poses a long-term health threat to students and staff.
The College Inn building was used as an overflow housing dorm at the university, and local reports cite that it was constructed in 1964, a time when asbestos was widely used in construction materials.
Because of its insulating and heat-resistant properties, asbestos was commonly found in piping, tiling, cement, paint, insulation and countless other building products.
Exposure to this toxic material has been linked to the development of respiratory cancers including lung cancer and mesothelioma. Unlike other health issues, asbestos-related diseases often remain latent for decades and can take up to 50 years to manifest.
While removing and cleaning of all existing asbestos from the College Inn was an option, reports state that the cost of asbestos abatement and related fixes would top $3 million.
“The cost of renovation really exceeds the value of the building,” said Paul Leef, campus architect.
The demolition of the 76,779 square-foot building will occur during the summer of 2013, at an estimated to cost $1.5 million. Because the university acquired more housing space for over 1,000 students in 2011, the College Inn building is no longer needed.
The school building will remain empty until the demolition next summer.
According to Leef, there are no official plans for the space. New housing units for families or graduate students have been considered.
Asbestos on College Campuses
The University of Colorado is just one of many recent examples of educational campuses with asbestos dangers.
At the beginning of April, the University of South Carolina announced that approximately 90 of the school’s 200 buildings contained asbestos. The school has now developed a plan t identify the buildings that contain asbestos, which will help better plan renovations and required repairs.
California State University Northridge was also recently found to have asbestos. The Environmental Health and Safety Department conducted a routine inspection that yielded surprising results to school officials. Eighteen buildings were found to contain the toxic material, even though reports show that a majority of asbestos was removed from the campus buildings over the last 20 years.