Austin Community College: Rio Grande Is Safe

RECEIVED Wed., Dec. 26, 2007

Dear Editor,
    The Austin Community College District works daily to promote and maintain a safe and healthy environment for the ACC community. The college takes a proactive approach and addresses any potential or identified problems promptly.
    Misinformation regarding a renovation project at Rio Grande Campus resulted in “Return to ACC’s Room 221: Mercury or mystery?” [News, Dec. 21]. The fact is RGC has been extensively tested by qualified environmental professionals. Built in 1916, the building has undergone updates. When an area is remodeled, ACC works with qualified experts and appropriate city review and planning groups to ensure all applicable building codes are met.
    The project in question is the remodeling of room 221, located under a chemistry lab. The chemistry lab was remodeled in 2005 and is now a modern instructional laboratory, which meets appropriate safety standards. This section of the building has been tested for mercury by four independent environmental testing companies. At the request of ACC, the Texas Department of State Health Services also performed mercury vapor monitoring. In addition, ACC enlisted the services of a board certified toxicologist to observe testing and interpret results. In each case, the professional opinions have been that the levels of mercury did not pose any health risk. As stated in the article, the tests found little evidence of mercury beyond normal atmospheric conditions and well within the level the federal government recognizes as safe for a daily work environment.
    ACC will continue to take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of our students and employees. Precautionary testing will continue through the room 221 remodeling process.
Dr. Stephen B. Kinslow, Ph.D.
ACC President/CEO
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