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Steve Schmidt, Herald Staff Writer

A group of UND students concerned about smelly air and speaks of ash in Babcock Hall will ask the State Health Department to investigate.

Lea Duma, the student anthropology club president and a leader in the effort, said concerns center for now on the nearby UND steam generating plant and coal-handling facilities.

Duma, a senior from Bismarck, said that although a UND safety officer has said there is no health danger. "There are a lot of students wondering what's in the air."

She said, "We'll write a formal letter for the Health Department to check out air emissions and the pH level of sulfur coming out of the stack. We're asking if it's hazardous to our health and if there are any side effects."

Anthropology professor F. Larry Loendorf said he hadn't seen students so charged up about an issue since the 1960s. Anthropology and integrated studies students are in Babcock Hall, one of the oldest buildings on campus. It does not have a ventilating system.

UND Plant Services Director Leroy Sondrol said students hadn't contacted him yet about their concerns. But he said, "From our standpoint, we would welcome any suggestions or comments the students would have."

Duma described the air in Babcock as "kind of sick and heavy" on Wednesday and said the air has been unpleasant often the past year.

Loendorf showed how black dust or ash would come off on a finger rubbed across one of the classroom tables. The windows are covered with flecks of black. He said it may be coal dust carried by southerly winds from piles along the BN tracks.

Sondrol said, "The railroad has been working and raising the tracks through that area, which has been filled with coal dust."

He also said the university invested about $500,000 in air pollution control equipment at the team plant in the early '80s. He added, "Technology has changed since then."

Students held one meeting on the air quality issue this week, and plan another on Thursday, Duma said.

Source: Grand Forks Herald, October 27, 1989