As the first public University in the nation, UNC faces challenges concerning the deterioration of buildings that have been standing for decades.
Asbestos signs in Mitchell Hall have not only exposed this decay, but have also stirred concern among some students and faculty, who are concerned with the potential health risks.
Sarah Linville, a junior studying psychology, said she has class in Mitchell Hall every day for about an hour. When she saw a warning sign and a thin plastic sheet closing off an area she walks past daily, she was immediately concerned.
“After the initial shock, I was kind of just like, ‘Why didn’t they tell us that?’” Linville said. “I was a little surprised and kind of disappointed that the University didn’t make any effort to communicate that to students because it just seems like something I would want to know.”
Asbestos is a general term used to describe a variety of naturally occurring minerals. However, most of what Linville knows about asbestos — like many non-experts — is that it can cause health issues, including lung cancer and mesothelioma.
The signs in Mitchell include warnings about cancer and lung disease and express the need for protective clothing when entering the blocked-off area.
According to the EHS website, 29 UNC buildings, including nine residence halls, "require additional precautions" due to asbestos-containing materials located on the walls or ceilings.
The website also says that there could be more buildings with ceiling systems that contain asbestos — complete inspections of all of these buildings have not been performed.
A University spokesperson said the facilities are "safe to be in," but asks that people in affected buildings avoid scraping or damaging ceilings, walls or pipes and place a facility work order before hanging objects on walls.