Asbestos and Mould Spores Contaminate Science Building

Signs warn of asbestos abatement, plastic covers the walls and ceilings; yet the house of higher learning remains open

According to a geography professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland’s St. John’s Campus, the building he works in might not be safe and students are circulating a petition to address the problem. The professor, Alistair Bath, and some of his students fear their health is in danger do to asbestos and mould concerns in the science building.

Since July, when there was a flood in the building and mould was discovered Bath has been out of his office. “For my office, which is in [room] 2015 of the science building, aspergillus spores of a reading of 27,120,” Bath said. He has been working in the same building out of a temporary space for four months now. Other offices in the building have spore readings that are several thousand spores fewer.

Aspergillus funguses spores are present everywhere. For the average person there is not much danger but for someone with a weakened immune system, aspergillus infection may be a concern. The mould has been cleaned up but Bath has since become aware of another problem, asbestos. “I phoned, and I said, ‘Yeah, there’s asbestos,’ and immediately, emergency asbestos work was done,” said Bath.

Signs warning of asbestos abatement are now plastered on most of the science building walls and plastic covers hang from the ceilings and walls. Pathetically, and with only the fallacious logic a bureaucrat can articulate, Memorial University’s director of health and safety, Sheila Miller said, “Health-wise it’s not bad. I mean, what you’re seeing is many years of deferred maintenance, and if you were to walk around public buildings anywhere, you’d see the same kinds of issues.”

People are not at risk and the university is quick to fix any asbestos contamination, Miller says reassuringly. “There’s a whole process that people need to look at when you need to look at mould, where it is, and what it means. So, it’s not as simple as saying ‘we are going to do mould testing.'”

Bath is still not convinced. “It seems like the university’s plan at the moment is a Band-Aid approach on a cancer patient. In my own mind, our own health and safety has lost a lot of credibility. So there’s a lot of trust and other, bigger issues that needs to be dealt with before we believe our own university health and safety,” Bath said


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