Could Back to School Mean Back to Asbestos for our Children?
It has been over three decades since the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued warnings about the dangers of asbestos exposures in schools across the nation, yet the potential harm to students, teachers, and other school employees still exists.
In fact, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) says “Asbestos continues to be a problem in schools, leaving students, teachers, and staff at risk.” And the Environmental Working Group (EWG) says “It’s a significant problem, any school built before 1981 is presumed to contain asbestos materials”.
Almost all U.S schools that were built between the 1940’s and the 1970’s were built with asbestos-containing building materials. According to OSHA, any building at all constructed before 1981 is presumed to contain asbestos. The danger with asbestos comes when the material containing the asbestos is disturbed in any way. This disturbance can occur during modernization, renovations, or repair work, all which are common occurrences in schools. When asbestos fibers are disturbed they can become airborne and end up in lungs causing serious health issues including cancer. Asbestos material can also become friable which means it can easily crumble with contact. When friable asbestos material is present in our schools it can become a danger to our children and school employees.
The asbestos problem has impacted school across the nation. According to case studies and numerous press reports, t there are countless accounts of asbestos being found in school systems and no one taking the proper action to safely remediate the issue. When a school system is about to embark on a construction project or any project that can disturb potential asbestos, it is important to investigate what is behind the walls.
For the health and safety of our children as well as school employees it is crucial to understand the dangers of asbestos and to stop these issues before they begin.