Recently, asbestos has been causing havoc in schools around the country. Because of its durability and fire-resistant nature, asbestos-containing materials were commonly used in schools built between 1940 and 1970 (Dobbins, 2018). Since it is expensive and time-consuming to remove, schools often leave it concealed. As these schools start to deteriorate, asbestos can easily become released causing kids and school employees at risk of exposure and developing an asbestos-related disease.
- Fitchburg, Massachusetts – Asbestos was found in the floor tiles and pipes at Crocker Elementary and Memorial Middle Schools (Dobbins, 2018). Concern for the school’s employees and students caused school officials to take action. They are currently working on performing asbestos abatement, air tests, and inspecting the rest of the school for any additional signs of asbestos.
- Wickliffe, Ohio – The Wickliffe school board superintendent has recommended pushing the districts reconfiguration “to pursue its study of new/renovated facilities” (Roberts, 2018). It is proposed that the current middle school be converted into a K-6 building and the current high school into grades 7-12. Asbestos abatement being one of only several issues, cost and timing are determining factors contributing to the delay. As it is difficult to fully eradicate asbestos in buildings, the board believes that the better alternative may be to start fresh with new, already asbestos-free buildings.
- Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey – Pinelands Regional High School just recently opened after a month-long closure after several “construction problems” were found including the discovery of asbestos in the roof (Oglesby, 2018). The school may close again in order to begin a several-phase plan to improve the buildings and eradicate the asbestos-containing roof. Currently, the project is being delayed due to budget constraints.
Unfortunately, there are many similar cases showing up like the aforementioned every day. The EPA is in charge of enforcing asbestos regulation in public and non-profit schools. They require schools to inspect their buildings for asbestos-containing material and to prepare a management plan in order to take action to prevent or reduce hazards related to the presence of asbestos under the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) (EPA, 2016). In addition to requiring the school to be inspected every three years, AHERA also specifically requires schools to:
- Develop, maintain, and update an asbestos management plan and keep a copy at the school.
- Provide yearly notification to parent, teacher, and employee organizations on the availability of the school’s asbestos management plan and any asbestos-related actions taken or planned in the school.
- Designate a contact person to ensure the responsibilities of the public school district or the non-profit school are properly implemented.
- Perform periodic surveillance of known or suspected asbestos-containing building material.
- Ensure that trained and licensed professionals perform inspections and take response actions.
- Provide custodial staff with asbestos-awareness training.
Parents, teachers, and school employees, or their representatives reserve the right to inspect the school’s asbestos management plan; the school must make the asbestos management plan available to the requestor within 5 working days of it being requested.
For more information about asbestos in schools, click here.
Dobbins, E. (2018, January 14). Asbestos found at Fitchburg school not an uncommon sight. Retrieved February 06, 2018, from http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/news/ci_31592285/asbestos-found-at-fitchburg-school-not-an-uncommon
EPA. (2016, December 19). Asbestos and School Buildings. Retrieved February 06, 2018, from https://www.epa.gov/asbestos/asbestos-and-school-buildings#management
Oglesby, A. (2018, January 19). Pinelands Regional High School reopens, but could close all next year. Retrieved February 06, 2018, from https://www.app.com/story/news/education/in-our-schools/2018/01/19/pinelands-regional-high-school-reopens-but-could-close-all-next-year/1045469001/
Roberts, T. (2018, February 02). Wickliffe Schools reconfiguration project faces delays. Retrieved February 06, 2018, from http://www.news-herald.com/general-news/20180202/wickliffe-schools-reconfiguration-project-faces-delays