Asbestos in Schools
Asbestos exposure is normally associated with miners, factory employees and construction workers. Indeed, many of these individuals now suffer from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, although most of these individuals were exposed to asbestos more than thirty years ago. However, asbestos continues to be a problem today. Many public buildings across the United States still contain asbestos, with individuals being exposed to this toxic material daily.
A major asbestos exposure problem today is the presence of this toxic material in some of the nation’s schools. Schools that were built before the mid 1970s used asbestos materials regularly for insulation purposes, unaware of its dangers. However, when environmental and health officials discovered its dangerous health effects, the use of asbestos was ended. Nevertheless, many of these older schools containing asbestos continue to be in use today throughout America.
A report issued in 1995 on the nation’s school facilities showed that more than half of the children in the United States attended schools with some form of environmental problems, including the presence of asbestos. Although that report was issued several years ago, environmental advocacy groups believe that the problem of asbestos in schools continues, with little being done to correct and improve school conditions.
Some schools with especially poor air quality, believed to be caused by these toxins and asbestos, have reported that staff, faculty and students are dealing with an increase in respiratory problems, nervous system disorders, headaches and asthma.
Finding a Solution
While many schools today have been replaced with new and safer facilities, others still need attention. With funding problems throughout many cities and the high cost of licensed abatement firms specializing in the proper remove asbestos, some cities are finding it difficult to meet these safety demands. Although the Environmental Protection Agency has placed safeguards to ensure that schools containing asbestos do not cause any dangers, some schools are simply passed by, while others must wait for long periods to finally receive these improvements.
Nevertheless, asbestos in schools is not always dangerous to those who use these buildings. When asbestos materials remain undamaged and in good condition, they do not pose a health threat. However, if there is no management plan to ensure the continued safety of individuals in the event that asbestos does become a problem, staff, faculty and students remain at risk.