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ASUNM studio under scrutiny

Inspectors’ opinions differ over safety of building

Health inspectors are reevaluating the health conditions in the ASUNM Crafts Studio after a Daily Lobo article drew attention to the organization’s move to the first floor of the Communication and Journalism building.

The trouble began Thursday morning when Frank Perez of General Campus Safety walked into the crafts studio and talked with its director Mark Chavez about the safety of the area. He asked Chavez whether all safety precautions had been followed when moving the studio to the first floor that had been shut down because it was occupied by UNM Press.

Marc Gomez, director of Safety, Health and Environmental Affairs at UNM, said the printing chemicals once housed on the first floor prompted the safety questions.

“Lead from the printers stuck to the walls,” he said.

Before the Crafts Studio was relocated to the Communication and Journalism building from the Student Union Building basement last fall, safety inspectors went in to encapsulate, or paint over, the lead on the walls with a type of epoxy paint that is supposed to seal in the toxins effectively, though with less than 100 percent accuracy.

When Perez went to the studio Thursday, he noticed a wall that was left unpainted in the relocation process — several months after members had been exposed to it — with lead remnants still visible on the wall.

Gomez was adamant that the wall has posed no health risk and will be painted over as soon as possible.

“The wall should have been painted over,” he said. “There must have been some miscommunication along the way.”

The safety inspectors sent their industrial hygiene manager, Donii Fox, to the studio for a follow-up inspection after Perez’s visit.

“She was surprised to see us in this room and not the one further to the south, further away from all the lead,” said Bridgette Bussey, a crafts studio employee.

Chavez said that Fox assured her that nothing is wrong with the room the studio is using.

Ron Rhodes, an independent consultant for the University, inspected the first floor of the Communication and Journalism Building in 1999 and will conduct a follow-up inspection today to assess whether the studio can be used.

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