Iowa City, Iowa - The 135,000 square foot University of Iowa fine arts complex has been closed since a disastrous flood in 2008. Though the stage is set for a complete demolition of the site, before work can begin the extensive asbestos must be carefully removed. Scheduled for completion in 2015, the new complex will be located on higher ground, away from any additional flooding threats.
Curating diversity in art, Hancher Auditorium, along with other supportive arts buildings, works in conjunction with the University of Iowa and the surrounding community.
Built in the 1970s, Hancher Auditorium is similar to other buildings of that time where asbestos was used freely throughout the structure. Known for its incredible versatility, asbestos was mined across the globe and used in manufacturing for decades. From piping and cement to decorative snow and brake pads, asbestos touched virtually every part of our modern life.
Speculation by experts suggest that Hancher Auditorium may have asbestos in soundproofing and insulation. What complicates the Hancher Auditorium project is that asbestos was not always used on its own; meaning, asbestos was often added to or mixed in to other substances and materials to improve overall strength and durability.
According to Tom Wuehr, an environmental specialist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the asbestos abatement firm that will be hired to handle the massive project reassure the public that every necessary precaution will be taken to ensure everyone's safety, including keeping the contaminated area wet in order to keep the asbestos dust at bay.
Asbestos is a known carcinogen and exposure to the toxin is linked to development of certain cancers. Chief among the diseases linked to asbestos exposure is mesothelioma, a rare, yet debilitating cancer. During an asbestos exposure episode, small asbestos particles are inhaled and may lodge in the lungs, around the heart or in the abdominal cavity.