Asbestos situation an avoidable hazard

When a potentially dangerous situation develops, the natural reaction is to take action that will reduce the danger. And the sooner it can be quelled, the better.

A situation involving danger is developing at the University Health Center, but NIU might not be doing all it can to avoid a potential health risk.

Last summer, a consulting firm hired by the university found low levels of asbestos, a known cancer-causing agent, throughout the health center. Since then, university officials have been meeting to discuss what should be done. And for all intents and purposes, those officials have decided to leave the situation as is.

It has been argued the levels of asbestos at the center are too low to be a cause for concern. And officials say since the asbestos is not airborne there is no danger.

But asbestos causes cancer. And even if the levels at the center are low, the potential for danger exists. The asbestos should not just be “encased,” as has been suggested. It must be removed.

There is no reason to subject people who visit or work at the center to a possible health hazard, no matter how small the odds are anyone will be harmed.

emoving the asbestos would no doubt be an expensive process, but one the university should recognize as well worth the costs. If money can be allocated to the athletic department and the Recreation Center, both of which brought on their own financial troubles, then certainly money can be found to make the university a more healthy place to be.

Even students, who complain each time they hear the words “fee hike,” probably would be willing to pitch in to remove the danger. After all, this is a risk that most directly affects students.

The group dictating what will happen with the asbestos should heed concerns expressed by the public and act now to remove the dangerous substance. Plainly, the general public wants the asbestos removed. The university should listen to the outsiders and remove the asbestos.

The presence of asbestos creates a danger that does not have to be. It can and should be remedied.

The potential for danger exists. And it has been recognized. The university has to remove the asbestos. As soon as possible.