UM asbestos discovery prompts concern at daycare facility

Posted at 2:34 PM, Feb 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-07 17:24:23-05

MISSOULA – The University of Montana will hold two meetings on Thursday to address asbestos found in McGill Hall, that forced officials to close the building down.

ASUM Daycare, Media Arts, and other offices are housed in McGill Hall.

UM discovered asbestos in a second floor office suite back in December. They then sealed it to conduct cleanup and testing.

University workers inspected the H-VAC system that serves the Child Care center on January 28 and identified asbestos on surfaces in the preschool, prompting them to relocate it the following day.

UM closed down the entire building, indefinitely, on January 30.

Parents have shared their frustrations over concerns about their children’s close contact with the carcinogen at public meetings last week.

There will be a general meeting at 12 p.m. in the University Center Theater, and a parent meeting for ASUM Childcare at 4 p.m.

MTN News spoke with a pulmonologist about the effects asbestos has on young children’s lungs.

Questions still remain for parents who sent kids to ASUM childcare
UM closes one of its buildings for elevated asbestos readings

The primary concern with asbestos is aerosolized fibers which can be suspended in dust. Exposure to loose fibers due to things like cracked ceiling tiles or airborne particles due to construction in a nearby room is where fibers can infiltrate the air the most.

Western Montana Clinic Pulmonologist, Dr. Ryan Nahapetian says that the health risks increase with the type of exposure, duration of exposure, and amount of exposure.

Dr. Nahapetian added that there’s no known threshold for asbestos exposure, the longer you’re exposed to asbestos, the higher the risk, the higher the dose, the higher the risk. And it takes years to see a negative impact.

“The problem with asbestos is that it does not cause acute illness. The health effects are usually seen decades later. It’s going to be hard to identify any abnormalization in these kids in the short term,” Dr. Nahapetian explained.

Asbestos is known to cause a number of health issues including breathing abnormalities, scarring of the lungs, and cancer.

Reporting by Russ Thomas for MTN News