Asbestos Discovered and Contained in Chicago-area School

According to a report from the Chicago Tribune this week, a school in Carpentersville, Illinois had to be temporary evacuated this week after asbestos was discovered in numerous classrooms. Luckily, the news source explains that officials believe the asbestos has not become airborne, which means students are likely not in danger of any kind of exposure. The asbestos were discovered when a maintenance crew was trying to install new boards in four different classrooms at Sunny Hill Elementary last week, the news source explains. According to that report, the crews “spotted the glue-based asbestos late last week.” Nevertheless, officials from the school, located in Barrington District 220, emphasized in a letter to parents that their students were not put in harm’s way.  School officials sent these notices to parents this week, saying that air quality tests came back with encouraging results, as no asbestos materials were said to have been released in the affected classrooms. According to the Daily Herald, “The asbestos was recognized by a foreman during the replacement of white boards with SMART Boards in seven classrooms.”  After finding the glue-based asbestos material in the walls, a test confirmed the presence of asbestos in four of those rooms, ruling out the presence of this dangerous material in the remaining three. Right now, the Daily Herald reports that students in the four classrooms are working in other parts of the school as maintenance workers make the necessary repairs. According to the Herald, officials said this work “should be complete by Friday or Monday.” Once a common industrial material, asbestos was widely used in construction, making it a staple in some older buildings and structures. Unfortunately, the period of heaviest asbestos use was also the time when many schools were being constructed throughout the U.S., contributing to the continued risks we see today for school children and teachers. The presence of asbestos becomes an issue in these older structures when it ages and is damaged, allowing its fibers to become airborne. Diseases associated with asbestos exposure include lung diseases, like asbestosis, and a lethal cancer known as mesothelioma. Mesothelioma impacts patients after a latency period of 20 to 50 years, offering a poor average life expectancy of anywhere from just a handful of months to a year and a half. References:
  • Jenco, Melissa. (November 1, 2011) “Asbestos found at Sunny Hill grade school in Carpentersville.” Retrieved on November 2, 2011 from the Chicago Tribune.
  • Peterson, Eric. (November 1, 2011) “Asbestos found, contained at Carpentersville school.” Retrieved on November 2, 2011 from the Chicago Daily Herald.
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