Ryerson aims to battle asbestos

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By Samantha Lui

Ryerson is looking for a company to evaluate the amount of asbestos on campus, according to a request filed by the university earlier this month.

The university has filed an inquiry seeking a engineering and environmental consulting firms in a bid to find one that can assess the level of asbestos on campus.

Since much of the campus was built in the 1960s, a number of buildings are deteriorating and at risk for asbestos.

When asbestos enters the environment, fibers get into the air and if inhaled, they can cause health problems such as lung disease.

According to a 2008 Status Report on Asbestos Containing Materials at Ryerson, several buildings, such as the Victoria Building, Kerr Hall, the O’ Keefe Residence, and the School of Image Arts, have had traces of asbestos.

Asbestos is naturally occurring long, thin fibres that are mined for their strength and chemical and thermal stability.

Jackson Tang, supervisor at the Purchasing Office, is in charge of the contract proposal that seeks to fix this problem.

Tang said the inquiry is in the preliminary stages and he cannot provide much detail until a company is found.

“We encourage everyone who thinks they are qualified to come out and evaluate this situation at Ryerson,” he said.

The inquiry is standard and reflects Ryerson’s annual use of environmental consultants to assess asbestos on campus, added Ian Hamilton, Director of Campus Planning and Facilities.

“It’s not that that we have an asbestos problem at the moment,” said Ryerson president Sheldon Levy.

He said that this way, the university can build a reliable list of companies it can consult if a problem arises.

But Levy noted that it is possible that asbestos is present in some buildings and has not been found yet.

“The moment that you disturb an old facility, it doesn’t matter which one it is, you are by law required to remove the asbestos,” said Levy.

“So we don’t have any problem but any time you touch an old building you’re going to find it.”

Emma McIlveen-Brown, a first-year contemporary science student, is not surprised asbestos is found on campus since it is also present in many buildings around the city.

A former student at the University of Toronto, McIlveen-Brown said traces of asbestos were also found in many of the buildings there.

But despite being a common problem, she thinks that asbestos should be evaluated.

“I think it is reflective to the fact that our government and institutions have poor standards, which are endangering people’s health.

“For Ryerson it would be good to review their policy.”

Photo: Lauren Strapagiel


  1. About your article on the topic of asbestos at Ryerson University, I am an environmental inspector as well as a certified asbestos inspector with over 8 years experience in completing asbestos surveys and building inspections. My wife is currently attending Ryerson and I often visit the library on Victoria St. and I have also been in a few of the other older buildings on campus and have identified several materials that are likely to contain asbestos while walking around.

    I would like to offer my services as an asbestos and hazardous materials expert to Ryerson University. I would be able to answer questions, complete inspections, collect and have confirmatory samples analyzed at an accredited laboratory or provide recommendations regarding asbestos and other hazardous materials.

    I did notice the call out to consultants earlier this month from Ryerson about the asbestos, and the company I work for decided not to pursue the project due to scheduling conflicts with other projects. I do have my own company however and I could offer much more economical rates and very fast response times should the need arise. I also work closely with a Certified Industrial Hygienist if I need the support.

    If you can point me to the right contact person I can approach them with my offer and provide more details about myself and my experience with this kind of work.

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