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The ABCs of Asbestos in Schools

The Huffington Post recently published an article authored by Linda Reinstein, President of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Association addressing steps to protecting your kids from asbestos in schools.

The article cites little-known but harrowing statistics that schoolteachers are more than twice as likely to die from mesothelioma than the general U.S. population, and teachers are among the top five occupations with the highest risk for asbestos diseases, right up there with construction and chemical plant workers. The author astutely recognizes that, “If teachers are dying from asbestos exposure, what about their students—our children—who sit in the very same classrooms, breathing the very same air?”

The full extent of asbestos hazards remaining in schools across the nation is largely unknown. Any school built before 1980 is likely to contain asbestos, unless it’s undergone significant remodeling. Considering that about half of all schools in the U.S. were built from 1950 to 1969, the potential for exposure to asbestos in schools is staggering.

In 1982, the Environmental Protection Agency issued the Asbestos-in-Schools rule, requiring schools to perform regular inspections for asbestos and enact proper abatement action if any risk is found. Schools are required to track this information in asbestos management plans which are readily available to teachers, parents, and students. If a school fails to conduct an inspection or develop an asbestos management plan, the EPA can fine the school up to $5,000.

Due to the financial burden this puts on schools, and the limits on oversight by the EPA, the risk of exposure to asbestos in schools remains extremely high.

The EPA has published a checklist to help parents and teachers recognize where asbestos may be present in their schools, evaluate potential risk, and take proper action to prevent our children, teachers, and school officials from breathing in this deadly material.

EPA: The ABCs of Asbestos in Schools

For additional information visit asbestosnationorg.

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