Common Asbestos Locations in Schools

Prior to the 1980s, many schools were constructed using asbestos containing products, particularly in areas where it was necessary to protect building features subjected to extreme temperatures. Although asbestos has been shown to be related to diseases such as mesothelioma, its use is not completely outlawed in the United States, even in schools.

Regulating Asbestos in Schools

Schools that opted to not participate in costly removal of all asbestos related materials have regulations enacted by the Environmental Protection Agency to monitor them. These schools must undergo an inspection of asbestos-containing materials every three years to ensure their safety. Additionally, schools in this condition must report annually to their Parent Teacher Association in regards to their asbestos management program plan. This report is open to all parents and faculty of the school to review at any time. One reason that many schools opted to leave much of the asbestos containing materials in place is that removal is costly and can be harmful to the employees of the companies hired to remove the products. Another reason this option may have been selected by school officials, is that asbestos is typically not harmful if it is left undisturbed and has not suffered any damage. Fortunately, many of the schools that chose to leave the products be pass the inspection tests and do not have harmful materials exposing the students within it.

Where Asbestos is Found

Classrooms and halls within schools were typically constructed with asbestos materials, such as the sheet flooring, ceiling panels, and the plaster used to finish classroom and hallway walls. Materials that are used for fireproofing purposes often contain asbestos, and are commonly located around furnaces, boilers, and in pipe insulation. Cement board that is placed around the heat producing sources such as furnaces may also contain trace amounts of asbestos. Schools with staged auditoriums tend to have a large, sweeping curtain that covers the stage. This material is fireproof, thus also tends to contain amounts of asbestos. Even the science laboratory at most schools use asbestos containing pads under Bunsen burners because of their fire retardant properties. Reference: Environmental Protection Agency – Asbestos in Schools