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ASBESTOS MANAGEMENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA
General Information Session
March 21, 2002

IS THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA A SAFE PLACE TO WORK AND STUDY?
Yes. The University of Manitoba recognizes its responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace and is taking all measures necessary to ensure that staff and students are not exposed to asbestos fibres.

Recent dust testing by Workplace Safety and Health (March 16, 2002) and by Pinchin Environmental Ltd. (March 13, 2002) in the Fletcher Argue, Tier, Isbister and Elizabeth Dafoe Library Buildings indicated that there is no health risk from asbestos to day-to-day activities in those buildings. Air testing will continue throughout all University of Manitoba buildings on both the Bannatyne and Fort Garry campuses to ensure the safest possible environment.

Two mechanical rooms, one in Fletcher Argue and the other in Tier, where tests showed some asbestos in dust that had been removed with a "scraping" method are currently being scheduled for cleaning. Other mechanical rooms will be tested as soon as possible. Mechanical rooms contain machinery and have access restricted to authorized University
trades personnel only.

HOW ARE PEOPLE EXPOSED TO ASBESTOS?
People are exposed to asbestos by the inhalation of asbestos fibres. Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) which can be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure are known as friable asbestos. When friable Asbestos Containing Materials are damaged or disturbed they can release fibres into the air and people who may come in contact with them are at risk of inhaling fibres. As long as Asbestos Containing Materials remain undisturbed and asbestos fibres are not released into the
air, there is no hazard to people coming in contact with the materials.

WHY HAS THIS ISSUE COME TO PEOPLE'S ATTENTION AT THIS TIME?
Concerns have been raised recently about possible exposure to asbestos on campus, one concern dealing with the Stores Building, which has been addressed by the University, and another with a possible exposure at least thirty years ago. The University, in cooperation with the Workplace Safety and Health Division of Manitoba Labour, has investigated the concerns and is taking action to address the issues. Our most immediate focus has been to ensure that current staff and students are protected from any potential exposure.

DO OTHER UNIVERSITIES AND SIMILAR INSTITUTIONS HAVE TO DEAL WITH ASBESTOS CONTAINING MATERIALS?
Most buildings that are more than 20 years old contain asbestos in one form or another. This includes government and municipal buildings, schools, financial institutions, etc. Most universities in North America are faced with the same concerns about asbestos as our University, unless they are very new. The University of Manitoba's asbestos control
program is similar to that of other institutions.

HOW DO WE KNOW WHERE ASBESTOS CONTAINING MATERIALS ARE LOCATED AT THE UNIVERSITY?
It must be assumed that almost all buildings on campus contain Asbestos Containing Materials in one form or another. Comprehensive building audits have been completed for 26 of the buildings on the Fort Garry and Bannatyne campuses and the plan is to complete the audit process by June 30, 2002.

WHAT TESTS ARE PERFORMED AT THE UNIVERSITY FOR ASBESTOS CONTAINING MATERIALS?

1.The University conducts bulk sample analysis of any material that is suspected of being an Asbestos Containing Material. This is usually done when there is the potential disturbance of a suspected Asbestos Containing Material, for example, when renovation or maintenance work is planned.
2.The University normally conducts air monitoring when there is suspected
disturbance of Asbestos Containing Materials and concern for exposure to
asbestos fibres in air. Such testing will continue in the future.
3.When asbestos is removed by an asbestos abatement contractor, testing is again undertaken by an external consultant to ensure that the removal has been completely successful.
4.For the full assurance of a safe work and study environment, the University of Manitoba is committed to conducting air monitoring in all University of Manitoba buildings on both campuses by June 30, 2002.

WHAT PLANS ARE IN PLACE NOW TO ENSURE THAT STAFF AND STUDENTS ARE NOT EXPOSED TO FRIABLE ASBESTOS IN THE FUTURE?

1.Publicly accessible high traffic areas are being examined to ensure that all Asbestos Containing Materials are in proper condition and not subject to damage or deterioration.
2.The University is conducting air monitoring of all buildings on campus with a target completion date of June 30, 2002 to determine if there is any indication of asbestos in air.
3.The University will complete an overall preliminary inventory of all buildings on campus with a target date of June 30, 2002. This inventory will identify which buildings present the higher risk of exposure to friable asbestos for further, more comprehensive auditing.
4.The University is in the process of consolidating all the elements already in place into a documented and comprehensive Asbestos Management Program. The development of the Asbestos Management Program will include the participation of the campus community.

ARE PEOPLE WHO WORK IN BUILDINGS THAT CONTAIN ASBESTOS CONTAINING MATERIALS MORE AT RISK OF DEVELOPING ASBESTOS-RELATED DISEASE THAN THOSE WHO DO NOT?
The medical and epidemiological literature indicates that people who do not work with asbestos, only work in buildings where asbestos is present as a building material, are not at any risk for asbestos-related disease greater than the general public.

WHO SHOULD BE TESTED FOR ASBESTOS EXPOSURE?
In consultation with Dr. Allen Kraut, an Occupational Health Specialist with the Manitoba Federation of Labour, the University is in the process of developing a surveillance program for its staff. A proper research study of individuals at possible risk at certain time periods will be developed by individuals with the appropriate epidemiologic expertise. There is no specific test to measure asbestos in the body. Medical surveillance
programs have been developed to determine whether workers show any effects of asbestos exposure. These programs involve taking a work history and a chest radiograph and lung function test. The University of Manitoba is committed to accommodating anyone who feels they should be included in the medical surveillance program.


WHY WAS THE STORES BUILDING EVACUATED AND CLEANED UP?
This was done as a precautionary measure because there were indications that there may have been a deterioration of the enclosure system for the asbestos in the ceiling directly above the work area that was installed in 1990. The dust samples taken prior to the cleanup indicated low levels of asbestos in dust.

Results from monitoring of fibres in the air were below the threshold for taking any required remedial action.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TAKING DUST SAMPLES AND CONDUCTING AIR MONITORING FOR ASBESTOS?
A dust sample is only useful as an indicator of the possible presence of asbestos in a building. By itself, it says nothing about the risk for inhalation exposure. There are no recognized occupational standards for asbestos in dust.

Air monitoring indicates if asbestos fibres are in the air and in concentrations high enough to be of concern. Air monitoring conducted by the University and external consultants has indicated levels well below the occupational exposure limit established by Provincial authorities.


HOW IS ASBESTOS HANDLED WHEN RENOVATIONS AND MAINTENANCE WORK IS DONE ON CAMPUS BUILDINGS?
When major building modifications, additions, etc. are planned, comprehensive asbestos audits are undertaken prior to the work to determine the location of Asbestos Containing Materials. If Asbestos Containing Materials are found, they are normally completely removed by an asbestos abatement contractor under controlled conditions prior to any
construction activity.

The University has developed safe work practices and procedures for maintenance and repair work undertaken by University maintenance staff. The University has adopted the Workplace Safety and Health Guideline "Guidelines for Working With Asbestos" and all work procedures must conform to this standard.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT ASBESTOS?
Should you have concerns regarding any potential exposure to asbestos, please discuss this with your supervisor or department head. The Environmental Health and Safety Office (EHSO) may be contacted at 474-6633 at any time for assistance and advice on this issue.

HOW WILL I KEEP INFORMED OF WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH THE ASBESTOS ISSUE?
The University plans to provide regular updates on the status of activities with the asbestos program.

Questions or Comments? Contact webmaster: Paul Houle, (204) 474-6316