Don't lick the walls.
For the students of Apartment Residence Hall, commonly known as "Andy Holt," living amid asbestos and lead paint is simply part of the college experience.
Constructed in 1973, ARH stands as a memorial to outdated and potentially hazardous building practices. Throughout the building, walls are laced with lead paint. In other areas allegedly beyond student reach, the walls are lined with asbestos; a notorious substance known to cause several serious lung conditions.
During housing registration on move-in day, residents are warned of these documented hazards and asked to sign an acknowledgement of these risks.
Although sophomore engineering major and ARH resident Tor Vorhees does not perceive any immediate danger to his well-being, he expressed no desire to live in a "decrepit" building marked by "poor engineering practices" for an extended period.
Asbestos is a fire-resistant substance that, when made into a fabric, can be useful for insulating purposes. However, long term inhalation of the substance has been shown to yield a myriad of health complications, including mesothelioma, lung cancer and other pleural complications.
Despite the proven link between asbestos and incurable lung diseases, no ban on the substance exists today. Rather, regulations are designed to limit contact.
The same cannot be said, however, for lead paint. Due to its toxicity and relation to nerve and kidney damage, lead paint was banned in the United States in 1978.
Before moving in, ARH residents are given formal warnings detailing the widespread presence of lead paint within the building. While harmless under normal circumstances, it is toxic if ingested or inhaled. Residents have reported that while moving in, they were – perhaps jokingly – advised not to lick the walls.
"It's upsetting that you move into a dorm in 2013 and you're given a warning on lead paint," Vorhees said, "because you'd think that would be something that was fixed long ago."
Rather than deny the presence of these materials within the residence hall, Dave Irvin, associate vice chancellor of Facilities Services, sought to allay fears.
"The Apartment Residence Hall does contain asbestos, but it does not represent any health hazard as it is non-flyable, stabilized and not in student areas," Irvin said. "The asbestos in the building would only need to be removed when the building is demolished."
The worry-free sentiments expressed by Irvin are shared by ARH resident Ryan Silva, sophomore in accounting, who said he feels no concern over the presence of asbestos.
"I feel totally safe working here," Silva said. "I have no worries about the building crumpling down."