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High school students used to remove asbestos

A number of students at a Merced County, California high school were exposed to the potentially harmful material asbestos and school officials did not urgently act on the matter - in fact, they took their time.

Just recently, it came out that the Merced County Office of Education superintendent knew that students had been exposed to the dangerous material, but waited over a year to inform authorities.

The asbestos exposure came from a project hatched by a non-profit group that was working with the school to give students on-the-job experience. Many students were used to help renovate an old building in order to turn it into an automotive training center. Part of those duties included removing asbestos.

While originally nine students were believed to be exposed to the cancer-causing material, a further investigation into the situation revealed that other individuals were likely exposed to the toxic materials during the renovation process.

Several of the non-profit's officials were arrested on a myriad of charges in addition to knowingly exposing students to asbestos. Prosecutors say that the superintendent knew about the exposure back in September of 2008 and did not report it for another year-and-a-half.

Reporting exposure to asbestos in a timely manner is paramount, given the ill-effects the substance can have on one's health. Exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma, which is a rare type of cancer found in the lining of one's lungs that can prove fast-spreading and painful. If this ailment is caught quickly, doctors can employ treatment to slow the spreading and reduce pain.

Source: The Modesto Bee: "DA says Anderson knew of asbestos risk in Merced school," Victor A. Patton, Nov. 6, 2011

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