In anticipation of renovations on the A-level of Dillon Gymnasium, work is being done now to remove asbestos in the area, Director of Environmental Health and Safety Robin Izzo said.
Asbestos is a mineral that can cause cancer and lung disease.
According to Senior Associate Director of Athletics David Leach, the renovations include six gender-inclusive changing and shower areas that will double as family changing areas; upgrades to the existing locker rooms, including new lockers and showers; addition of team rooms for clubs, including men's and women's volleyball; and a new hallway along the gym's west side on the A-Level.
The renovations are expected to be completed in the fall of 2016, Leach said.
There is a presumption that buildings constructed before 1981 have building materials that contain asbestos, and the University was aware that pipe insulation in Dillon contained materials with asbestos, Izzo explained.
"Some of the renovations will impact exposed mechanical spaces," Izzo said. "Renovations will impact the locker rooms and a few other places."
The asbestos removal work is expected to be completed by around the end of August, Izzo said. A third party contractor is monitoring the removal contractor and testing the air quality to ensure asbestos fibers are not leaving the areas that are cordoned off.
Pipe insulation and other asbestos-containing materials are monitored officially at least a couple of times a year, Izzo said, adding that maintenance workers working on unrelated issues serve as another source of informal monitoring. The purpose of this monitoring is to learn of materials that have become wet or damaged, because intact asbestos containing materials does not release airborne particles and are not dangerous.
In the case of Dillon, though, the asbestos removal work was prompted by the planned major renovation.
"There is an asbestos abatement contractor working on campus almost every day," Izzo said, explaining that some jobs are small, while renovations like the one at Firestone Library can prompt a significant amount of work.
However, the danger of asbestos to the community is minimal, Izzo added.
"They generally aren't in places where people can touch them," Izzo said. "The places where they're doing the removals are mechanical spaces."
Students interviewed had mixed reactions about the impact of the ongoing work at Dillon Gym.
Arianna Brown '18 said that while she thought some of the disruptions, specifically including the closure of the Cardio Annex, were significant, she also didn't view it as a major concern, because there are more than enough cardio-related machines in the Stephens Fitness Center.
For the time being, the closure of the Cardio Annex is not a major concern, Jason West '18 added.
"People can go for a run [outside]," he said.
The continual nature of the asbestos removal work at the University in the past proved to be an occasional matter of controversy. In 2011, students returned to campus in September to find a 20-foot inflatable rat outside Firestone Library, whose organizers said they intended to protest substandard asbestos removal work but may have actually intended to protest the University's use of non-union removal contractors.