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No need to worry about Sills Hall asbestos, officials say

May 3, 2024

Isabelle Fitzgibbon
ASBES-DUST: The Sills Hall construction site is undergoing renovations, during which asbestos was found around the building. Worry not, as the asbestos did not pose a health concern prior to this project and has since been properly removed.

Contracting crews discovered asbestos in Sills Hall during the exploratory, pre-construction phase of the Sills Hall renovation project. According to JF Scott Construction Assistant Superintendent Jared Doyle, there is nothing to worry about.

Asbestos needs to be airborne to pose a danger to humans, which has not occurred in Sills, according to construction officials.

“Asbestos, unless it’s disturbed, isn’t a problem. That’s why we abate it prior to demo-ing the area. When it’s airborne, that’s when it becomes a problem,” Doyle said. “Unless [professors] were chopping their walls open and trying to inhale the dust, I don’t think there’s gonna be an issue there.”

The pre-demolition crew discovered asbestos in pipe insulation, floor tiles, adhesive for floor tiles, mastic resin for chalkboards and some parts of the building’s fire doors. However, in all of these places, the asbestos has remained undisturbed since Sills’ construction in 1950.

Materials made with asbestos likely remain in many of Bowdoin’s buildings, especially those made during the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. For this reason, Director of Capital Projects John Simoneau was not surprised about its discovery in Sills.

“The presence of asbestos in Sills is not a secret and was not a surprise to the Bowdoin Facilities and Capital Projects. Asbestos is a material that was historically used in many types of building construction products and is found in most historical buildings, including those on the Bowdoin campus,” Simoneau wrote in an email to the Orient.

Kurt Dunn, another superintendent for JF Scott Construction, echoed Simoneau on the ubiquity of asbestos.

“It’s all over the place. It was the greatest building material in the world until they found out maybe it wasn’t. It’s all natural; it comes from the ground,” Dunn said.

Because demo teams identified asbestos in the pre-construction phase of the renovation project, time for asbestos abatement was built into the construction and demolition timeline.

The discovery did not affect the timeline for Sills Hall’s reopening , which is currently scheduled for fall 2025.


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