Rye prof Bob Argue argues that these carpets need to go. Photo: Simon Hayter

Mouldy carpets pose safety hazard

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By Chris Johnson

Old and decaying carpets in Jorgenson Hall should have been replaced decades ago, and now they’re a serious health and safety hazard, says sociology professor Bob Argue.

“The carpet fibres are breaking down… those carpets have not been changed in 30 years,” Argue told a room full of third-year occupational and public health students last Thursday. “The industrial life of a carpet is 12 years.”

Argue, who is also Ryerson’s faculty association health and safety representative, was giving the lecture as part of the university’s annual Union Fair, a series of lectures by workplace experts and activists who spoke on campus between Nov. 13 and 18.

Argue said the carpet residue is breaking down and circulating in the air, causing a potential breathing hazard.

“The fibres are full of mould among other things,” said Argue, referring to the purple carpets that line the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth floors of Jorgenson’s tower, which houses such programs as French, Spanish, geography and philosophy.

It’s become so bad that a contingent of professors are planning a 30th birthday party for the old rugs, inviting all the university administrators on the 13th floor whom Argue said have had their carpets replaced at least twice in the last three decades.

Manuel Ravinsky, Ryerson’s facility planner, said his department intends to change the carpets, but it needs the funding first.

Those who work in the area of the allegedly tainted carpets hope that money comes soon.

“The carpet is terrible for allergies,” said Gail Duffus, the administrative coordinator of the dean of arts office on Jorgenson’s eighth floor. “It either needs to be cleaned or replaced.”

The faculty of arts are the only floors that have such battered carpets, said Adrian Hill, a secretary on the sixth floor.

“They did renovations two or three years ago,” she said. “I have no idea why they did not replace the carpet.”

Argue doesn’t blame university administrators for not replacing the jagged carpets because he knows budgets have been thin lately, but he wants to make sure people know the potential dangers — and that he’s pestering the university brass to fix them.

“Most people don’t think of a university as a hazardous place,” Argue said. “But in fact, universities are industrial sites. I just want the school to be safe,” he said. “No job is worth dying for.”

During his speech, Argue also said “the image arts building is a ventilation disaster,” and even though the university has examined the Bond Street building, the problem remains.

Other notable speakers at last week’s Union Fair included Debora DeAngelis, the woman who formed the first union at Suzy Shier, and Lide Lareau of the Canadian Media Guild.

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