Picture the horror of sending your children to school! Believing they are safe, only to discover that they are being exposed to a hazardous substance that is a danger to their lives everyday. The substance in the talk is Asbestos. A naturally occurring mineral, asbestos is a known carcinogen (a substance that causes cancer in living tissue). It has been used in the construction of buildings for decades. Due to unique properties like heat & fire resistance, chemical resistance, high tensile strength, high durability and flexibility, asbestos was like a wolf in sheep's clothing in the world of construction, for decades.

How Deadly Is Asbestos?

In a short and simple way - "VERY".  Asbestos is known to cause a non-curable lung cancer called mesothelioma and a lung disease called asbestosis. Asbestos fibers can be inhaled or ingested. They are sharp and can penetrate the walls of lungs easily, creating a layer of asbestos fiber, which eventually leads to cancer and a whole host of other breathing related diseases.

Children are particularly vulnerable to its effects, as their bodies are still developing and they breathe faster and inhale more air per pound of body weight than adults. Asbestos fibers can remain in the lungs for years, causing damage that may not become apparent until decades later.

Exposure To Asbestos In Schools

Exposure to asbestos in schools can be a significant health hazard for both students and staff. It can occur in different ways:-

  • Asbestos was used in building materials such as insulation, ceiling and floor tiles, and pipe insulation until the 1970s when its dangers were realized.
  • If these materials deteriorate over time, asbestos fibers can be released into the air and inhaled by students, teachers, and other staff.
  • Asbestos exposure in schools can also occur during renovation or construction projects, when asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) may be disturbed or removed improperly.

How Can Schools Manage Asbestos Risks?

To prevent exposure to asbestos in schools, it is important to regularly inspect and manage any asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) that are present. This includes:-

  • Contacting professionals to identify possible locations of ACMs, monitoring their condition, and developing a plan removing them, if necessary.
  • Educating school staff and students about the risks associated with asbestos exposure and how to avoid disturbing ACMs is also necessary. This may involve training staff on how to identify and report damaged ACMs, as well as educating students on the importance of not touching or disturbing suspected materials.

If a school is found to have unsafe levels of asbestos, it may need to be temporarily closed while the problem is addressed.

What Parents Can Do?

As a parent, there are several steps you can take to protect your kids from the risks of asbestos exposure in schools:

  1. Ask the school district if they have an asbestos management plan in place & if they conduct regular inspections of their campus for its presence.
  2. If you suspect that your child's school may have unsafe levels of asbestos, speak with the school administration and ask for more information.
  3. If necessary, contact your local health department or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for guidance on how to manage or remove ACMs safely.

In conclusion, while the risks associated with asbestos exposure in schools can be concerning for parents, there are many steps that schools and parents can take to minimize those risks and keeps the kids safe. By being proactive and staying informed about the presence of asbestos in schools, we can ensure that our children stay safe and healthy while they learn.

In addition to all these things, it is important to contact professionals when it comes to these hazardous substances. Professionals at Ridaway are ideal when it comes to safe asbestos removal. They are state certified and licensed and a trustworthy choice for asbestos inspection and removal.