Portions of the Reitz Union are contaminated with asbestos — and they have been for more than a month, although UF’s spokespeople were unaware.
Signs in front of the taped-off Arts and Crafts Center and the employee hallway warn passersby of the hazard, citing a risk of “cancer and lung disease.”
Eddie Daniels, executive director of the Reitz Union, wrote in an email that the asbestos will be cleared in a few days.
“Tests were performed to determine if hazardous materials are present,” he said. “As a result of that testing, asbestos was found in some parts of the construction area.”
During construction on the Lower Level of the Union that began Dec. 7, workers posted signs to warn about the hazardous material, which can cause inﬂammation of the lungs if ingested and heighten the risk of developing lung cancer. Renovations are expected to last until later this Spring.
Kate Konieczny, a student employee in the printing lab, said she noticed the signs for the ﬁrst time when she arrived at work Tuesday.
“I thought that it was a little bit concerning,” the 19-year-old UF psychology sophomore said.
Asbestos is a ﬁre retardant material that can typically be found in older homes and buildings. About 120 buildings on campus contain asbestos, according to Alligator archives.
All visible asbestos was removed from buildings more than 25 years old, costing the school about $25 million. When pressed for comment Wednesday, Steve Orlando and Janine Sikes, UF’s primary spokespeople, said they were unaware of any asbestos inside the Reitz.
Sikes said it’s not surprising the asbestos was found because UF’s campus is one of the oldest in the Southeast.
“Asbestos was commonly used in older buildings, unfortunately,” Sikes said.
Signs in the Reitz Union warn of asbestos. Parts of the Lower Level of the Reitz Union are closed for renovations.