Tests reveal risks

Asbestos and lead are found


Alexandra Riva

Beams with a lead-based paint cross the Gymnasium ceiling.

A test conducted by RGA Environmental, a Terracon Company on Los Medanos College’s campus, revealed many buildings constructed prior to 1980 contained traces of asbestos and lead in various areas. These buildings include LMC’s College Complex and Gymnasium.
The results of the test performed July 6, indicated lead was found in the dark brown paint on the interior structural steel beams in the gymnasium. Another test, conducted Aug. 10, found asbestos in the roofing and scattered in the pea gravel covering all of the roofs.
“According to the California Health and Safety Code, once we confirm a building has hazardous materials, we must communicate with all employees working within the building of this finding,” said Chief Facilities Planner Ray Pyle, in an email regarding the college complex re-roofing and gymnasium renovation projects.
The renovations are scheduled to begin Nov. 30, starting with the very top section of the roof of the college complex. This area includes the roofing over the music department, theatre and core buildings. Construction is supposed to end Jan. 29 2016.
“We’re hoping to get that part done before the rain starts up. The gymnasium renovations most likely won’t be starting until the summer,” said LMC’s Buildings and Grounds Manager Russ Holt.
The costs of the renovations are between $700,000 and 1 million dollars. The ability to complete the renovations comes from allocated maintenance funds.
Asbestos and lead, are virtually harmless unless disturbed which could cause particles of the substances to become airborne.
“Please note that moving, drilling boring, sanding, or otherwise disturbing the lead and asbestos-containing construction materials identified may present a health risk and, consequently, should not be attempted by an unqualified employee. If the materials appear to be deteriorating, please contact your Buildings and Grounds Manager immediately,” said Pyle in an email.
When inhaled or ingested, both substances have disastrous effects on the human body. Mesothelioma, which is caused by excessive inhalation of asbestos, is a rare cancer targeting the lining of internal organs, most often the lungs. Lead poisoning is more harmful to young children but it could still be detrimental to teenagers and adults, causing pain in the joints and muscles, memory loss and a decline in mental functions.
“No one has gotten sick. We just want everyone to know that we are taking the necessary procedures,” said Holt, about the results of the testing done by Terracon. “Anytime we are going to do any type of construction, we call a company like this and we have the tests done.”
Structures potentially containing asbestos, lead or other hazardous materials are always tested before construction is undergone. During the renovations, these materials can become airborne, allowing inhalation, which could cause people in the buildings to fall ill.
“ If our project plans to disturb any of these materials, qualified abatement firms and abatement inspectors will be hired to comply with all laws and regulations regarding working with, and monitoring the work on, hazardous materials,” said Pyle.
For those interested in reviewing the full copy of the testing protocol and results, they are available in CC1-138 by appointment during normal business hours.