29 Garden Students Warned of Asbestos

HRE Will `Manage' Hazardous Material

More than 150 first-years living in 29 Garden St. were notified last week about a Harvard Real Estate plan to "manage" the asbestos present in the rooms and pipes of their building.

Asbestos is located in the residences, the freight elevator and two trash and laundry rooms on various floors of the apartment building, according to a University-commissioned report obtained earlier this month by The Crimson.

A Harvard Real Estate memorandum, dated September 17, arrived at the doors of Garden St. first-years last week. The memo states that Harvard Real Estate "has had the building surveyed for asbestos-containing materials."

"Most of the asbestos-containing materials at 29 Garden St. are concealed behind walls, ceilings, and in flooring," the memo says. "These materials pose no health hazard to the occupants of this complex under normal usage."

But the University-commissioned report contradicts that assertion. The report says that the asbestos in 29 Garden St. may be released into the air and become hazardous through any number of activities, including the moving of furniture and routine cleaning.


The memo lists three materials that are being managed under the asbestos plan: vinyl tile and sheet flooring, adhesive under the tile and flooring and the hot water pipe and fitting insulations.

The memo said that while the vinyl tile, sheet flooring, and their underlying adhesive remain in place, they are in good condition and, thus, unlikely to contaminate the air with asbestos.

The pipe and fitting insulations on accessible risers have been completely wet wrapped, sealed and covered with a vinyl jacket, according to the memo. The memo did, however, advise residents not to hang plants from the pipes.

Harvard Real Estate said in the memo that it will "inspect all asbestos-containing materials at 3-month intervals to ensure that no airborne asbestos hazard exists." The removal of the asbestos is scheduled to begin after June 30, 1994, when the building will be vacated for renovation.

Students interviewed yesterday said the HRE letter was informative and helped allay their fears of the cancer-causing material.

"My father worked for the Department of Health and Environmental Control in South Carolina so he knows and I know about asbestos," said John A.Bloodworth III '97. "The letter containedimportant information that people should know; aslong as it is not airborne it is not a problem."

But other students said they were surprised andworried that asbestos was in the building.

"After reading the articles in The [Boston]Globe and The Crimson, we called the Office ofEnvironmental Health and Safety and theSuperintendent's office at 29 Garden St.," saidJoe Levy '97. "We were worried about holes in thewall where they put in the data lines. Thesuperintendent came and said there was no asbestosand the holes were fixed a couple [of] daysafter."

And one student said his fears about asbestosin the building arise from personal experience.

"I am pretty frightened, because of pasthistory. I had an aunt who passed away a year anda half from...a rare lung cancer that is mostlikely attributed to asbestos," said Alon C.Ferency '97. "It seems as if any amount ofasbestos is dangerous.