Asbestos – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

(Related to an anonymous article/petition entitled “Stop Exposure of Students, Staff and Faculty Members to Asbestos in Lakehead Centennial Building” released on or around April 23, 2015)

Question #1:
Are students, staff and faculty at Lakehead University (LU) exposed to asbestos?

Answer #1:
Students, staff and faculty are not expected to be exposed to hazardous concentrations of airborne asbestos fibres when they are at LU performing representative office work or studies. Asbestos containing building materials (ACM) are present in many homes, offices and school

Question #2:
What are hazardous concentrations of airborne asbestos?

Answer #2:
Evaluation of the hazard presented by airborne asbestos fibres should be done by comparing the measured airborne concentration to exposure limits and/or guideline values that are based on sound scientific studies and well established risk assessment procedures. The following benchmark values are considered to be reasonable guideline values in the interpretation of air sampling results and measured concentrations in excess of these values can be considered hazardous:

0.1 fibres per cubic centimetre of air (f/cc) –
Workplace time weighted average (TWA) exposure limit for asbestos, Ontario Regulation (O. Reg.) 490/09 (Example: The maximum airborne concentration of asbestos fibres that a factory worker making brake shoes out of asbestos can be safely exposed to for an 8 hour day.)

0.01f/cc – Asbestos enclosure clearance value to be achieved inside an enclosure after Type 3 asbestos work and prior to dismantling the enclosure, O. Reg. 278/05 (Example: The maximum airborne concentration of asbestos fibres that is considered safe for building occupants following removal of friable ACM under stringent conditions described in O. Reg. 278/05.)

0.04 f/cc – Ambient air quality criterion (AAQC) for asbestos fibres in outdoor air, 24 hour average, Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) (Example: The average outdoor concentration of airborne asbestos fibres that the general public can be expected to be exposed to.)

0.0004 to 0.06 f/cc – The range reported for background concentrations in indoor and outdoor air which is stated in publications, including the Report of the Ontario Royal Commission on Matters of Health and Safety Arising from the Use of Asbestos in Ontario, not to represent an increased risk of asbestos health effected for building occupants. (Example: The range of airborne asbestos fibre concentrations that is considered safe for building occupants.)

Question #3:
Does settled dust in the Centennial Building present a hazard when it is disturbed during normal office activities?

Answer #3:
No. Airborne fibre concentrations measured in the Centennial Building of 0.001 f/cc to 0.005 f/cc during normal office activities are not considered to be elevated and fall within the expected indoor and outdoor background ranges noted in answer #2 above.

Question #4:
Is 0.5-1.0 vol% an alarmingly high asbestos concentration?

Answer #4:
No. The Ontario definition of an ACM is a material that contains 0.5% (vol%) or more asbestos (i.e. if a material contains less than 0.5% asbestos it is not considered to be an ACM). The minimum detectable concentration of asbestos in a building material is 0.5% using the method prescribed in O. Reg. 278/05. Building materials can contain up to 100% asbestos.

Question #5:
Did clumps of grey fibrous material fall from the ceiling in the Centennial Building?

Answer #5:
No evidence has shown that grey fibrous material fell from the ceiling. The source of fibrous material observed on
horizontal surfaces in the Centennial Building is not known. The word "fallen" was used in reports provided by True Grit Consulting Ltd. (TGCL) to distinguish the fibrous material observed on horizontal surfaces (e.g. in offices) from visually similar fibrous fireproofing known to have been purposely applied to the beams above the metal slat ceiling.

Question #6:
Was the photograph of the fibrous clump in the article taken by TGCL?

Answer #6:
No. TGCL did not take, or provide the caption for, the photograph included in the article.

Click here to download and print True Grit Consulting's full report.

Click here to download and print Pinchin's Final Report on the Audit of Lakehead University's Asbestos Management Program

Click here to download and print Lakehead University's Asbestos Management Action Plan