Lead Dust Testing

October 17, 2011 by staff 

Lead Dust TestingLead Dust Testing, Health workers Buncombe County collected blood samples from two dozen Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College employees Wednesday after the revelation was contaminated Hemlock building on the campus of the University of lead associated with a indoor shooting range .

“The (Buncombe) Health Center advised us yesterday to encourage people who worked there day after day, to have proof,” said Mona Cornwell, director of community relations and marketing at the university. “The idea is that if these people are not showing the exposure, then those who are there less often will not show the exhibit.”

Test results are not expected until next week. The results will determine if more people need to be tested.

The building was evacuated on Tuesday, and classes were canceled Tuesday night and Wednesday after tests confirmed high levels of lead in the building. Classes had been held at Hemlock will resume today in other places.

High levels of lead are linked to an indoor shooting range on the first floor of the building. The range is used by students in emergency situations of the Academy of University Services.

The range was revised and re-open in January. The support that the bullets were fired was changed from a rubber mat to the steel panels were “spraying” bullets of lead. That lead dust created apparently spread to other areas of the building.

“Based on what we know and our discussions with the expert from the state, most people do not spend enough time in that building to create a problem or concern,” said Health Director Gibbie Harris Buncombe County.

The range has its own heating and cooling. But it is unclear how the lead got into other parts of the building.

“We’re still exploring that,” said Harris.

Prolonged exposure to high levels of lead can cause a number of problems.

“Lead is a poison that can affect all parts of the body,” said Harris. In adults, can cause high blood pressure, kidney damage, headaches, seizures, brain damage and hearing loss, Harris said.

“The good thing is that adults can get rid of it (lead) quite quickly,” he said.

Young children are at greater risk of lead exposure, because the damage is long term.

“We care more for young children,” Harris said.

Keith Owens, president of the medical emergency of the science department of AB Tech, and John Witherspoon, president of the fire service education at the university, were among those taking the test on Wednesday.

“We’re trying to reassure students that it is only one type of care of the situation, (that) we are not alarmed about what is happening, and that these things happen, especially in a building where you have a large indoor shooting” Owens said.

Witherspoon said the health workers also tested vehicles AB Tech employees “to ensure that the lead has been followed by construction vehicles.

Cornwell received calls on a line created for students with questions.

“Many of the questions we were getting were from students who wanted to know if the classes in that building were canceled today, and then will meet when classes will resume tomorrow (Thursday),” said Cornwell.

Some students wonder whether they should be tested for lead exposure. AB Tech criminal justice student Stacey Adams, who has classes in the building of Hemlock, said Wednesday he is not in question.

“I think it would be more worried if she was pregnant or had a disease,” said Adams.

It is unclear when the building reopens Hemlock. Yellow caution tape remained around the building on Wednesday afternoon, and officials say the building must be cleaned and air samples before students and staff can return.

The building houses the public service programs. This fall, there are 55 kinds of curriculum along with continuing education classes offered in the building.

“Right now, I think (the reopening of the building) is all up to test results,” said Owens.

Meanwhile, teams, documents, computers and everything inside is out of bounds.

“When people (faculty and staff) were told yesterday afternoon that the building was being evacuated, they were told they had to leave all that was there,” said Cornwell. “Logistically, it’s been a real challenge.”

The classes have been moved to other locations on campus and conference rooms.

Calls to the state Labor Department and the division of health status were not immediately returned Wednesday.

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