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Asbestos was found in the ceiling space of Simard Hall. Photo: Meagan Casalino/The Fulcrum

Employees may have been exposed to material in Simard Hall, Power Plant

The University of Ottawa released a statement on Aug. 28 identifying two buildings on campus that contain material with asbestos. The areas on campus that were not previously identified from past inspections were found to have asbestos-containing material (ACM). The areas include the ceiling space at Simard Hall and the chimney lining of boiler threw at the Power Plant.

The university says some of its employees from Information Technology Services, Teaching and Learning Support Service and Protection Services who worked in the ceiling space at Simard Hall and the Power Plant may have been exposed to asbestos. 

According to Health Canada, exposure to asbestos can cause scarring of lungs, difficulties breathing, and cancer. Health Canada does not consider exposure to asbestos to present any risk as long as the ACM is left undisturbed.

The ACM was discovered from an inspection commission by the university to determine whether any material may be present in areas where construction or maintenance work was scheduled. 

According to Health Canada, asbestos was used in buildings due to its strong, long-lasting and fire-resistance properties. Before 1990, it was used in building insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, house siding, and other construction areas.

In the emailed statement, the university says they are working with the Ontario Ministry of Labour to reduce the risks. The university says all buildings are being surveyed to determine the presence of ACM. The Joint Occupational Health and Safe Committee has also been informed of the situation. 

If you have observed an ACM that has been disturbed  or any other hazards, contact the Building Management Agent at extension 2222. Anyone with health concerns is asked to contact the Health and Wellness Office at extension 1473. 

More details to come.