McNeese State University officials closed Kaufman Hall because removal of a door led to the release of asbestos which contaminated multiple areas of the building, according to Philip Williams, university president. Mr. Williams was cited in a recent article by Louisiana’s American Press.
In early March, a door on the third floor of Kaufman Hall, which is under renovation, was cut in half by contractors in order to make it easier to be carried down the stairs. There was an immediate decision by the administration to evacuate the building. Tests were done on the first floor to see when the building could be re-occupied and to see how many people were exposed to the asbestos in the five days leading up to the evacuation, Williams said.
“The testing that we did indicated that even before the building was cleaned, the first floor area where the offices are would have passed safety standards, so I was reassured by that,” Williams said. President Williams also said university officials wanted to locate an expert who could fully explain what the numbers meant.
Expert Wynn White, of Consulting Engineers Inc. was at a meeting to consult with those who may have been exposed. White distributed a handout with facts on asbestos. White said at the meeting that some areas of the building have already been cleaned and that clearance air samples have been taken to document these areas. “The areas that have been cleaned and have been documented, I have no problem with reoccupying them,” White said. “I know the school is using a superabundance of caution.”
Asbestos exposure can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.