Asbestos shuttered McGill Hall to all staff and students on Jan. 31 after tests showed particles are present in several parts of the building.

An email from UM Vice President for Operations and Finance Paul Lasiter, who started in his position Jan. 15, announced that the building would stay closed for further testing.

“We are expanding airborne and surface tests to analyze the entirety of McGill Hall,” Lasiter said. “This will take several days to complete.”

Following the announcement, staff and faculty had thirty minutes to leave the building. In his email, Lasiter warned them to “leave all office materials and personal belongings in the building until they can be properly cleaned.” According to the email, McGill will likely stay closed for two weeks.

Media arts, health and psychology courses are all affected by the closure.

The closure of the entire building follows the University sealing off three offices, providing pulmonary testing for eight people and relocating its preschool program.

UM spokesperson Paula Short, in a statement to the Missoulian, said announcements about the initial December discovery of asbestos in the ceiling of McGill Hall were not issued because of limited contamination.

Short said tests identified dust around a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) unit as chrysotile, which makes up 95 percent of the asbestos used in construction across the United States. According to cancer.org, most diseases associated with asbestos exposure are caused from inhaling particles of the material in the air.

On Jan. 20, UM officials insisted asbestos did not contaminate any other parts of the building, and the air was safe to breathe. 

A campus-wide email sent Jan. 29 said tests revealed the HVAC unit pumping air into ASUM Child Care facility contained asbestos-contaminated dust. Although tests of the air did not show any dangerous levels of asbestos, the email said the children would be moved out of the building and technicians would continue testing for contamination.

In the Jan. 31 email, the Office of Operations and Finance said McGill will be closed to test the entire building.

Opened in 1953, McGill Hall is one of several dozen buildings on UM’s main campus built before the Environmental Protection Agency banned the material under the Toxic Substances Control Act in 1989.