The following information for the UAB community has been gathered to inform our students, faculty, staff and guests regarding the presence of asbestos-containing material (ACM) in some buildings on campus.

UAB has a very thorough and strict asbestos observation, identification, maintenance and removal program to maintain safe working and living environments. Robust policies and procedures and training are in place.

RESIDENCE HALL SAFETY
Denman Hall is the only residence hall at UAB with ACM (floor and ceiling only; testing at UAB has not found any asbestos in any wall system in Denman or any other wall system at UAB). As a precaution, the ceilings throughout Denman Hall have been treated with a paint penetrant — a recommended safety method to lock down and encapsulate ACM and keep people safe from possible exposure. In addition, the UAB Department of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) is aware of and regularly monitors buildings that contain ACM. Further, OHS conducts thorough inspections, and its personnel are trained to address any concerns. When necessary, removal of ACM is performed by licensed professionals under strict supervision.

ACM looks like material that does not contain asbestos, so asbestos cannot be identified with the naked eye, and can be identified only through laboratory testing; a sample is sent for testing off-site to determine whether suspected material contains asbestos. Due to UAB's extensive asbestos program, UAB is confident that Denman Hall is a safe environment; but OHS experts are available if anyone has concerns or questions about his or her room. Anyone who would like OHS to confirm the safety of his or her room should call 205-934-2487.

Students should remain familiar with and follow these policies outlined in the Residence Life Handbook:
  • Residents are expected to report all damage to the Office of Student Housing and Residence Life immediately.
  • Residents are not allowed to do their own repair work or bring an outside person or company in to do the work.
  • Only small nails, removable adhesive or poster putty may be used for hanging items on the walls. Please take care to hang items so that walls and doors are not damaged.
  • Hanging anything from the ceiling and/or fire safety equipment devices is not permitted.

ABOUT ASBESTOS

Asbestos-containing material (ACM) — any material that contains more than 1 percent asbestos fibers — is commonly found in buildings built prior to 1981. As is the case on many college campuses, ACM is present in some buildings at UAB.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), "The mere presence of asbestos in a home or a building is not hazardous" and "Removal of these materials is not usually necessary unless the material is severely damaged or will be disturbed by a building demolition or renovation project."

When left intact and undisturbed, ACM does not pose a health risk to people working or living in buildings. Claudiu Lungu, Ph.D., director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-funded Deep South Center for Occupational Health and Safety and associate professor in the School of Public Health Department of Environmental Health Sciences, says those at most risk for exposure to ACM are workers who do not take proper safety precautions.

"Workers who, for example, drill, cut or tear out ACM when they remodel or demolish a building should take proper precautions that are well-documented and -known in industry," Lungu said. "Living around contained asbestos is not cause for concern. Sweeping the ceiling or screwing something into a ceiling with asbestos is very unlikely to cause any exposure at all. Avoid activities like drilling that can create dust or cause ACM to crumble."

According to a safety guide from the American Lung Association, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:

"People who get asbestosis have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos for a long time. The symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos. Most people exposed to small amounts of asbestos, as we all are in our daily lives, do not develop these health problems. However, if disturbed, asbestos material may release asbestos fibers, which can be inhaled into the lungs. The fibers can remain there for a long time, increasing the risk of disease. Asbestos material that would crumble easily if handled, or that has been sawed, scraped or sanded into a powder, is more likely to create a health hazard."

QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS?
UAB Occupational Health and Safety oversees asbestos safety and control on campus. Please direct questions or concerns to OHS at 205-934-2487.