2013 Asbestos Program

In January 2013 a process was initiated to clean and seal floors in Stevenson, Ives, Rachel Carson, Art, and PE due to age and observed floor wear in certain locations (particularly where office chairs have direct contact with the floor and constantly roll in one location). These floors contain from 0-5% asbestos in the floor tiles.

EH&S and Housekeeping were working through the best method to clean and protect the floors. The process involves determining a method and testing that method using exposure assessments. These assessments were demonstrating air results within acceptable levels (no detection in air either area or personal during floor cleaning.) As this work was being completed significant dust build up was identified. The standard approach is to assume the dust contains some quantity of asbestos fibers and clean accordingly. The reason for this is that their is no regulatory standards for asbestos fibers in dust and no clear correlation between settled dust and airborne asbestos. As a strategy was being formed to clean the dust along with the floors a single location of settled dust was sampled and contained asbestos fibers.

Due to this single dust sample result a modified clearance sample method was used to verify the building was in no way unsafe for occuancy from an asbestos perspective. although a smaller scale of this testing was done during the inital floor cleaning. This testing was completed on a Wednesday and was full day sampling to represent the highest traffic/use day in the building. The testing was conducted by Vista Environmental. The second and third floors were the primary focus due to extensive carpeting on the first floor preventing impact to floor tiles (suspected source of fibers found). All samples came back not only below acceptable levels but they were all below detection limits of the lab method. While this work was being conducted efforts were underway to have an outside abatement firm mobilized to come in and clean and seal the floor of the building (all areas with exposed asbestos floor tiles). Although the air samples came back clean EH&S obtained approval and went forward with the building cleaning and sealing over the last weekend in March 2013. The reason this was done was not due to any regulatory mandate, but because the University became aware that dust had accumulated, had the potential to contain asbestos fiber and so the prudent step was taken to reduce that dust load as soon as possible to reduce any concerns related to the settled dust.

The work completed by CPM Environmental involved shutting down all air handling systems and isolating access to the building prior to beginning work. All other required best practices and precautions were taken as required for this type of cleaning. Additionaly the EH&S Director made the decision to have ALL remaining asbestos containing ceiling tiles removed from areas to be cleaned. The removal of the ceiling tiles has been steadily happening over the last 12 years as jobs affect areas where tiles are located or they become damaged in any way. If people were going to be cleaning these spaces it was prudent to eliminate the ceiling tiles and replace them with non-asbestos tiles. Due to the extent of floor tile, removal of floor tile was never a possible consideration. Although it was not required by regulation, modified clearance samples were again taken after the work was completed and inspected and before the building was reopened or the air systems re-started. All these samples came back within acceptable levels for clearance.

Once this initial cleaning was completed the University identified an Industrial Hygiene consulting firm that specializes in these type of situations to make sure the University developed an appropriate plan to better characterize the conditions and ensure a comprehensive plan was put in place to address whatever was found. This assessment involved extensive dust and air sampling along with the development of training and cleaning procedures for University housekeeping going forward. The results showed that roughly 10% of dust samples collected from the six buildings (Stevenson, Art, Ives, Nichols, Carson, and PE) contained 1 or more asbestos fibers and nothing was detected in any air samples throughout the six buildings.

During this time concerns were raised to the local Cal/OSHA office. Mr. Mark Harrington from Cal/OSHA responded to the complaint(s) and met with EH&S to review what was known and what was being done to address. He also collected additional dust samples from offices within the Stevenson 2084 suite. All wipe samples were non-detect for asbestos and no violations were issued. Some questions were later raised concerning the method of testing.

Sonoma State University has now completed training to enable our Housekeeping crew to clean the dust in offices into the future. As of 6/21/13 the day,swing, and moving crews have been trained. Night Housekeeping were trained July 28. The first general awareness training has been presented to staff and faculty. Additional air sampling (exposure assessments) have been completed to ensure the practices developed are effective at cleaning the environment without causing excess dust or asbestos fiber exposure that may or may not exist in any given area. To complete these assessments, employees were at a higher than ultimately anticipated level of personal protection, the rooms were physically isolated from the air handling system and the rest of the building during cleaning while samples were collected. Rooms in Rachel Carson, Nichols, and Stevenson have been cleaned and floors sealed throughout Stevenson and Nichols. All the results have been received and show little (in most cases less than have the exposure limit) of total fibers (PCM) detected and no asbestos fibers (TEM) detected during cleaning. While rooms were being selected for the exposure assessment two dust samples were collected from a long time Faculty office in Carson and was also non-detect. This is just an interesting finding to help illustrate the randomness of any material.

On 7/23/13 multiple rooms were thoroughly cleaned to simulate an occupant wipe cleaning their office by removing every book, binder and other item from every horizontal surface from ceiling to floor and wipe off every item with a damp cloth. results cleaning in this manner continuous through 6 offices showed a level of 0.015 total dust fibers/cc with a TWA (Time Weighted exposure limit) of 0.100 fiber/cc. Clearly demonstrating that wet wiping horizontal surfaces during cleaning, whether by occupant or Housekeeping followed by vacuuming with specialized HEPA by Housekeeping is very effective and requires no personal protective equipment or isolation of spaces. Below is a summary of samples results, excluding OSHA and consultant report above.

Going forward the plan will be to have entire office moves in these buildings coordinated with facilities and have the office thoroughly cleaned during the move process to remove heavy dust accumulations. Many questions have arisen with regard to what building occupants can do as far as moving “low contact” materials. Low contact materials are rarely accessed items and most likely covered with dust. Occupants are expected to wipe off personal materials with a damp cloth to remove heavy dust from horizontal surfaces without interruption in daily activities. Shelves can be periodically emptied to allow Housekeeping staff access to horizontal surfaces to use HEPA vacuums and damp wipe. General cleaning, work order process, and move coordination is described separate from this document on the EH&S web site and will be followed moving forward.

ALL floors in these buildings must be protected from constant chair caster impacts. The easiest way to accomplish this is by ensuring the floor is, cleaned, sealed and install a floor mat. Floor mats will be provided Centrally by Facilities and installed by Facilities in locations that contain possible asbestos containing floor tiles that are not already covered by chair mat or carpet. This will provide two methods of protection and eliminate the potential for this type of impact.

General cleaning schedules and recommended do’s and do not’s that are good general practice whether an asbestos fiber exists or not will be posted and periodically updated on the EH&S web site.