Asbestos Maintenance at CUIMC

February 2021 Safety Topic

February 1, 2021

Asbestos refers to a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals found in soil and rocks around the world. Due to its unique properties, asbestos has been used as an insulating material since ancient times. Asbestos is a hazardous substance that causes ill health to anyone who disturbs or damages it and then inhales the airborne asbestos fibers.   

Asbestos was used during the construction of buildings until the 1970s, and was found in construction products such as pipe insulation, vinyl floor tiles, thermal system insulation, spray-on fireproofing, and boiler insulation. Asbestos does not have a smell, and the fibers are not visible to the naked eye and can only be seen under a microscope. CUIMC’s administrative, academic, and housing properties are known to have asbestos-containing building materials.

If asbestos is intact and in good physical condition, it poses no health risk.

However, for your safety:

  • Do not damage or disturb floors, walls, and ceilings without contacting the building manager who will contact the CUIMC asbestos coordinator.
  • Do not remove carpets since they may be glued with adhesive that contains asbestos. Tiles that contain asbestos may be under the carpet and can be damaged when removing carpet.
  • If you notice damaged floor tile, walls, ceilings, or pipe insulation, inform your supervisor and do not touch or disturb the substrate.

At CUIMC, the building managers and the Campus Life Safety and Regulatory Compliance team monitor the proper maintenance and, when required, the safe removal of asbestos containing materials.

For more information about asbestos maintenance at CUIMC, please contact the CUIMC asbestos coordinator, Yvonne Wojcicki at yw2366@cumc.columbia.edu or a member of the Campus Life Safety and Regulatory Compliance team.