Washington State University
Environmental Health & Safety WSU Asbestos Management Program

Washington State University Asbestos Hazard Management

Introduction

Although not common in recent times, for many years asbestos was a common building component. It was considered the wonder mineral… cheap, plentiful, heat resistant, and chemical resistant. For these reasons, asbestos was widely used in many building materials. Although some buildings on campus have had the asbestos removed, many asbestos-containing products still remain.

Health Risks

Intact asbestos materials do not pose a health threat. But if the material becomes damaged or deteriorated, asbestos fibers can be released into the air and inhaled. Asbestos fibers are inhaled through the bronchial tubes to the bronchioles and are embedded in the alveoli. Exposure to elevated levels of these microscopic fibers has been linked to lung cancer and other serious health problems, such as asbestosis (excessive scar tissue on the lungs that restricts breathing) and mesothelioma (cancer of the lining of the chest cavity). The odds of getting asbestos-related illness increase with the level and duration of exposure.

Preventing Asbestos Exposure

In order to prevent or minimize exposure of faculty, staff, students and visitors to asbestos fibers, Washington State University (WSU) has instituted several health and safety program elements.  Through these program elements, the university intends to meet its general policy goals,