Health & Safety Information

Lead Paint, Asbestos, and Mold

Lead Paint

The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Rule exempts university dormitory housing and other ‘zero bedroom’ dwellings from the lead paint regulations. The Department of Residential Life has no knowledge, reports or records of the presence of lead-based paint or lead-based hazards in our targeted housing (apartments built prior to 1978). Residents of Northwood Apartments, Mansfield Apartments and other apartments within the residence halls (not Hilltop Apartments or Charter Oak Apartments) receive lead paint information that is relevant to their housing. Lead Paint Disclosure Statement.pdf.


Asbestos is a common, naturally occurring mineral fiber once widely used in a variety of building materials to provide strength, heat insulation, and fire resistance. It exists today in many buildings throughout the US, particularly in those constructed prior to 1980, including many of the University of Connecticut’s residence halls. It can be found in materials such as certain pipe insulation, plaster, floor tiles and their glues, ceiling tiles and their glues, and texturized paints. Breathing asbestos fibers can cause serious lung disease and cancer. However, only when the fibers are disturbed and become airborne can they be inhaled and potentially affect health. Intact, sealed, and undisturbed materials are not a hazard. For this reason, the US EPA recommends that asbestos materials be maintained in place and in good condition. Use the following measures to protect yourself and others from exposure to airborne asbestos:

  • Presume all building materials contain asbestos unless otherwise determined by the Department of Environmental Health and Safety.
  • Do not remove, cut, drill, sand, grind, nail into, or otherwise disturb any material that may contain asbestos.
  • Do not brush, sweep or vacuum any suspect debris.
  • Immediately report any observed damage or deterioration of suspect building material to the Assistant Director of Operations.
  • Only state-licensed contractors using trained individuals may remove asbestos containing building materials.


Mold is part of the natural environment and can be found everywhere and all year round-indoors and outdoors. All of us are exposed to mold spores daily in the air we breathe. Indoors, mold is usually not a problem unless sources of excessive moisture are present that cause it to grow. Large amounts of mold can produce health effects, such as allergic symptoms, in sensitive individuals and can cause damage to building materials and furnishings. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the only way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture. Common sources of indoor moisture that can cause mold problems include flooding, roof and plumbing leaks, very high humidity, or any moisture condensation on cold surfaces. Bathroom showers and steam from cooking may also create problems if not well ventilated. It is important to report and correct excessive moisture problems quickly before they develop into a mold problem.

Reporting Procedure

If you suspect a lead paint hazard, damaged asbestos or observe mold growth or sources of excessive moisture, immediately contact Facilities Operations at (860) 486-3113. Residential Services will bring in a representative from Environmental Health and Safety for an inspection and establish follow up actions as necessary.

Excessive Moisture in Campus Buildings

What causes the excessive moisture in buildings?

Elevated levels of humidity and/or ventilation in a building, led to an increase in the amount of condensation that can sometimes form in areas of some buildings, often on or near windows, or on portions of the ceiling or walls near heating and cooling pipes.

This has been observed to occur sporadically throughout the campus.

Why do some buildings/rooms have mold?

Mold spores are naturally occurring and are found both outdoors and indoors. During the spring, summer and fall months, mold spore counts outdoors high, similar to pollen counts. High levels of humidity in a building, combined with the exceptionally wet and humid weather we have been experiencing, has caused an increase in moisture in some of the rooms in some campus buildings. If not addressed, excessive moisture may over time cause visible mold to form in localized areas. Mold can start to grow when the relative humidity exceeds 60% for a prolonged period of time as well as where condensation occurs.

How do I report a problem in a building on campus?

Any community member who observes mold, water stains, or excessive condensation on the walls, windows, or ceilings in campus buildings should promptly submit a request to Facilities Operations so it can be evaluated and addressed right away before damage,  or odors  occur.

I am experiencing symptoms like nausea, difficulty breathing and/or headaches, is this caused by exposure to excessive moisture or mold? 

Mold spores, which are naturally occurring and are found both outdoors and indoors. During the spring, summer and fall months, mold spore counts outdoors are high, similar to pollen counts. Excessive rain patterns like we’ve been experiencing further increase spore counts. High mold spore counts outdoors naturally raises mold spore counts indoors. We are all exposed to mold spores daily. Excessive moisture can result in growth of spores. Most molds are harmless; but some molds can cause damage to building materials, unpleasant odors, and in sensitized individuals may cause symptoms similar to cold and allergy symptoms or trigger asthma in those who already have it. There are many possible causes of nausea, such use of fragrances, stress, dietary changes, etc. Nausea is not a typical symptom of a mold spore allergy so students experiencing nausea may want to consider a consultation at Student Health and Wellness and faculty and staff should reach out to their medical provider. Here is a fact sheet about mold from the university’s office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS).

Is there any risk to safety if I continue frequent a room that has excessive moisture? The University is aware of the moisture concerns in some buildings on campus and has developed a plan respond to and address areas of concern, Mold growth is a result of the elevated moisture conditions.

It is important to realize that some mold is present in every home, and for most individuals, exposure to large amounts of mold spores is usually needed to experience symptoms. The proactive plan for inspection/cleaning along with students promptly submitting work orders with concerns will prevent this.

For More Information

Dorm Room Indoor Air Quality Brochure

Buckley Hall FAQ

Was asbestos found in my room and if so, what was the level?

Random sampling was conducted in rooms throughout the building and results indicated levels of asbestos in the ceiling material that ranged from non-detect to 6%. Given this finding, we are treating the ceiling material in every room as if it is asbestos-containing, and taking immediate action to ensure the material remains in good condition or to repair and stabilize any damaged material identified.

Is the presence of asbestos in my room permitted, and is it a risk to me?

Asbestos is actually very common in building materials, not just at UConn, but across the United States. In fact, in the U.S., asbestos has not been completely banned, although UConn does not allow it to be used in its construction projects.

Our goal is to maintain asbestos-containing materials in good condition. Per the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), these materials do not have to be removed unless they are in poor condition that cannot be repaired, or there is a planned maintenance or renovation activity that requires their removal prior to the activity. Fortunately, no ceiling material in Buckley was found to present an immediate risk to residents that would require them to move.

My roommate and I have had respiratory symptoms.  Is this from asbestos that is in the ceiling?

Asbestos has a long latency period, typically greater than 10 years before the health effects of exposure are experienced. That being the case, any illnesses that residents may have experienced would be unrelated to the presence of asbestos in the room. Unfortunately, respiratory illnesses are somewhat common at this time of year, especially in communal living spaces such as residence halls.

I’m concerned about the process of repair work. Is this going to disturb the asbestos and release it into the air?

The repairs were done in a controlled fashion, with no scraping or other active removal of the ceiling material that could release asbestos fibers. The ultimate goal is to maintain the ceilings in good condition while ensuring the health and safety of the building’s occupants.

This repair work involved applying an encapsulant to cover the damaged areas. The work was carried out by a Connecticut-licensed asbestos abatement contractor who is skilled in the use of engineering and work practice controls to prevent dust release, in accordance with OSHA and EPA protocols. While the work was being conducted, they were in communication with the CT Department of Public Health. The protocols included protective plastic sheeting to cover furniture and belongings in the immediate area to help protect personal property from the encapsulant as it’s being applied, similar to protections in place during painting operations. They also employed safe wet methods along with HEPA vacuuming of damaged ceiling areas to ensure no airborne release. The encapsulant, which is a special fiber-lock coating, was then applied to the affected areas.

While the repair and stabilization work was being completed by the contractor, residents were asked to leave the room. As common practice and protocol, the licensed contractors HEPA-vacuumed the sheeting prior to removal. Additionally, air sampling was conducted to provide an extra level of assurance to our residents. The air monitoring firm conducted sampling of various spaces during work activities.  All results were found to be well below EPA’s final clearance limit, considered safe for occupancy.

Can I change rooms?

A room change process is available to all students on campus. See additional information here:  Room Change | Residential Life (

However, please note that leaving the Honors Community would require additional coordination with the Honors office for continued access to the community.

Once the repairs are done, how do we make sure that the ceilings remain in good condition?

Any Buckley resident who observes ceiling leaks or other signs of damage at any time should promptly submit a request to Facilities Operations so it can be evaluated and addressed right away. Do not attach any items to the ceiling or otherwise disturb the ceiling material in your room.

What is the asbestos abatement process?

Controlled Environment for Removal:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the CT Department of Public Health have stringent regulations about asbestos removal, which is done only under rigorously controlled environmental conditions. The method to be used to control the removal environment is called a negative-pressure air filtration system.

Negative-pressure filtration is a system that controls the flow and volume of air contained inside a removal work-site's barrier walls. The primary purpose of the system is to prevent airborne asbestos from escaping outward past the barriers to contaminate the rest of the building's air space. This is generally how the process works:

  1. The work site is completely sealed off with polyethylene sheeting. All openings that would allow the passage of air are sealed. The result is an airtight cocoon that completely envelops the workspace.
  2. A three-celled decontamination chamber is built to allow workers to pass into and out of the sealed work site. This decontamination unit has four successive sets of flapped door coverings. These flaps operate much the same as heart valves. They will allow outside air to pass inward, but fall shut to prevent inside air from escaping outward. It is essential that large volumes of air be allowed to pass inward through the flapped doors and into the work site.
  3. Negative-pressure air filtration machines are installed in the enclosed work site. Each of these machines can move up to 2,000 cubic feet of air per minute. The air is drawn through the front of the unit and, after filtering out any asbestos fibers, it exhausts through the rear via ductwork or plastic, to the outdoors. The air passes through three stages of filters, including a 12-inch thick, high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter that traps microscopic particulate matter, such as the invisible asbestos fibers.
  4. When the machines are turned on, they pull in thousands of cubic feet of air each minute, filter any contaminants out of the air, and then forcibly exhaust that filtered air out of the sealed space to the outdoors. This rapid evacuation of air causes the air pressure within the sealed space to drop somewhat. The higher ambient air pressure outside the sealed barriers will then cause air to rush in toward the lower, or "negative," pressure wherever it finds an opening.
  5. Once the machines are turned on, large volumes of air begin to move inward through the flapped doors of the three-chambered air lock. Enough filtration machines are installed so that together they can completely change all the air within the space every 15 minutes. The constant inward rush of outside, or "make up" air, serves several purposes. First, it constantly pushes contaminated air toward the intakes of the air-moving units, thus clearing airborne asbestos contamination even as it is being created by workers who are disturbing asbestos materials. Second, the constant inward rush of air through the decontamination chamber prevents airborne contamination from moving outward even as workers move through the decontamination process and exit. Finally, during the final clean-up phase of a project, the machines process the air to remove any residual amounts of asbestos that may remain aloft after the asbestos materials have been removed from the site.

Negative-pressure filtration is the primary system that prevents the spread of asbestos contamination throughout the rest of a building’s air space. It also helps to protect the asbestos removal workers by constantly cleaning the air inside the site, thereby greatly lowering the workers’ overall potential for exposure. Negative air machines will run constantly throughout the project, 24 hours a day, until the work is complete and final air monitoring has been conducted by a third-party project monitor to show that air quality meets EPA’s final clearance air standards. At this point, the negative air machines are shut down and the containment structure is removed.

For your safety, and per state and federal regulations, warning signs will be posted at various locations outside the regulated area of the asbestos project, to prevent access to the work site. These signs are used to instruct on the asbestos hazards and the necessary personal protective equipment for entry into the work area. They will remain in place until final clearance air monitoring has been conducted.

As indicated at the outset, the removal of asbestos containing material is done under stringently controlled environmental conditions designed to protect others within the building, as well as the asbestos removal workers, the local environment and the community. A licensed asbestos abatement contractor performs the asbestos abatement. In addition, an Asbestos Abatement Project Monitor will be on-site during the entire removal project. Project Monitors are licensed by the CT Department of Public Health and are not affiliated with the asbestos abatement contractor. The Project Monitor will conduct inspections and air monitoring of the work-site on a daily basis to verify compliance with the safety specifications. These inspection and air monitoring tasks will ensure that the engineering controls are working and program procedures are being followed.

Conserve Water & Report Leaks

Tips to Conserve Water

  • Take shorter showers.
  • Run dishwashers and washing machines with full loads.
  • Use water only as needed when washing dishes, shaving, and brushing teeth.
  • Raise the thermostat in air conditioned suites/apartments when no one will be in the space for several hours.
  • Immediately report any leaky fixtures to Work Order Control – (860) 486-3113.

By reducing consumption during these dry weather conditions, you can help us reduce groundwater withdrawals and protect local streams and the aquatic life they support.

The University will continue to monitor conditions and will provide regular updates at

Report Leaks – Help UConn Save Water

A leaky faucet can waste 20 gallons or more per day. Here’s how to report a leak thru Work Order Control.

  1. Go to: Maintenance Requests/Work Orders.
  2. Log into the system using your NetID and password.
  3. Complete the online form with as much detail as possible.
  4. Click the “Submit” button to send your report.

Claims Against the State

If you have suffered personal injury, property damage or other monetary loss which you think may have been caused by the University, you may wish to consider filing a claim with the State of Connecticut Office of the Claims Commissioner. The Claims Commissioner is charged by statute with hearing and determining all claims for money damages made against state agencies (with limited exceptions set forth in Chapter 53 of the General Statutes). Information about the duties of the Claims Commissioner and the process for filing a claim may be found on the Claims Commissioner’s webpage.

By posting this information on its website, the University is not providing legal advice. If you have any questions about your legal rights or legal processes, you should contact an attorney.