The University has confirmed that the Triangle Club has not been at risk of asbestos exposure while rehearsing at 171 Broadmead Street, despite misleading signage early this year.
The two-story brick building is located beyond the stadium and the baseball fields and formerly housed the University NOW Day Nursery. UNOW, which has partnered with the University since 1970 and grants preference to children of University faculty and students, was moved in September 2017 to a new building across the street.
The building did contain undisturbed asbestos, but it was removed between Sept. 26 and Oct. 1 this year.
“Some of the floor tile and some of the materials used to adhere the floor tile contain asbestos that is firmly bound into the matrix of the material,” Executive Director of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Robin Izzo wrote. “A licensed abatement contractor removed floor tile in some of the renovation areas with a licensed consultant inspecting and monitoring the work activities.”
The week of removal, a few Triangle members entered the building but left immediately when their peers pointed out the signs at the entrance warning of asbestos. They decided to rehearse on the lawn that day instead. When the officers later asked the administration whether the building was safe, they were told to go ahead as long as they used a back stairwell rather than the main entrance.
Several members have reported eye irritation and sore throats this year, and the choreographer has experienced headaches, which added to their concerns about the warning signs.
“I don’t have allergies, and yet I leave Broadmead with red eyes that are really itchy and a scratchy throat,” tour manager and cast member Jane Blaugrund ’20 said.
According to EHS, the effects of asbestos are usually delayed at least 15 years from exposure, so the symptoms experienced by Triangle members must have resulted from other factors, such as dust from the construction.
The first floor and basement of the building’s south wing are currently under renovation to create a laboratory for Professor David McComas’s research group. McComas has been selected by NASA to develop instrumentation for the Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe. Ironically, the new facility will include a cleanroom, where airborne particles will be kept to extremely low levels for producing microscale instruments such as ion spectrometers.
Club members saw the issue as one of communication, even though it turned out there was no risk.
“The signs were still up, they were not clearly indicating the procedure for having made sure it was safe for us, which is very unsettling for students,” Blaugrund said. “I didn’t know whether there was asbestos or not until last week.”
Even without the threat of asbestos poisoning, the building is still in poor condition, besides its inconvenient location. The third floor, which the club uses, has warped funhouse mirrors not suitable for rehearsing dances.
“All of the chairs, their upholstery is all ripped open,” Blaugrund said. “I don’t know if it’s cleaned ever.” There is only one restroom, and the performers drink from a work sink.
Other rehearsal spaces on campus, such as McCarter Theatre Center and the Lewis Center for the Arts, are in high demand. “The problem is, we take up a whole day, Saturday and Sunday,” Blaugrund said.
“They just don’t care where Triangle goes,” Blaugrund said of the administration.