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Independent investigation found no link between cancers, building on Auraria campus

Town hall planned for Monday afternoon
Posted at 10:07 AM, Aug 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-13 08:54:27-04

DENVER — An investigation into a possible link between cancers and a building on a Denver university campus is complete and authorities said there is no connection between the two.

Metropolitan State University of Denver and the Auraria Higher Education Center will hold a town hall Monday afternoon to update the community on the investigation.

The town hall is scheduled for Monday from 3-4 p.m. on the Auraria campus’s King Center concert hall, which is located at 855 Lawrence Way #145.

The independent investigation began in late July after multiple employees on the Auraria campus, who all work in the same area in the campus’s West Classroom, were diagnosed with cancers. The four-office suite they worked out of is on the second floor of the building. Two of the cases were different types of breast cancer and one was liver cancer. A staff member who had worked in that area two years prior had died of lung cancer.

READ MORE: Retired MSU professor says her office was known as the 'cancer corner'

The MSU student newspaper The Metropolitan reported that asbestos had been found in the West Classroom back in 2010, but test results came back clean. Six years later, the physical education building was closed due to asbestos. In April 2019, the locker rooms were closed for the same reason.

Exposure to asbestos is a particular concern in older buildings, where the materials — which may contain asbestos — start to decompose, according to the American Cancer Society. People can be exposed to it by inhaling or swallowing it. Studies have found that asbestos can increase the risk of lung cancer, mesothelioma and cancers of the larynx (voice box) and ovaries. Other studies have found that workplace asbestos exposure could be linked to cancers of the pharynx (throat), stomach, colon and rectum, according to the American Cancer Society.

In a press release sent out Monday morning, MSU Denver reported that “based on visual observation, direct-reading meter monitoring and analytical results, the environmental parameters were within the typical ranges for occupied office buildings and well below the applicable regulatory limits.”

MSU and AHEC received the test results from two independent companies on Aug. 8. They have analyzed the results and will share a summary of the findings at the town hall. Denver7 will livestream this event.

Campus leaders, as well as health and environmental experts, will answer questions from the audience. The panel will include Chief Operating Officer at MSU Denver Larry Sampler, CEO of AHEC Colleen Walker and MSU Denver President Janine Davidson, plus Jonathan M. Samet, who is a pulmonary physician, epidemiologist and dean of the Colorado School of Public Health.

The test results will be available online later Monday on the university’s website here.

Current faculty and staff with questions or concerns are encouraged to contact their supervisors or MSU Denver’s Office of Human Resources at 303-615-0009 or Students can reach out to the Office of the Dean of Students at 303-615-0220 or