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How can parents protect kids from asbestos exposure?

Exposure to asbestos can be hazardous to the health and life of anyone. It can be particularly troubling for young children, who are unable to take measures to protect themselves. Exposure to the carcinogen, even in relatively small quantities, can cause many diseases over time, including mesothelioma.

North Carolina parents should know that simply keeping children away from asbestos to begin with is the best way to keep them safe. However, sometimes a parent is not aware of the presence of asbestos at a location where their children will be until after the fact. In such cases, after possible asbestos exposure, parents should wash all clothes worn thoroughly, consult with a doctor immediately, and they may want to speak with an attorney knowledgeable about asbestos exposure.

The hidden dangers that often present themselves to children were emphasized recently when children at one old junior high school building were discovered to have been playing with material containing asbestos. A white chalky substance which covered the school's sidewalk did not appear a danger to the children, but it was. What the children thought was chalk was actually asbestos.

Often, asbestos may be present in material surrounding plumbing pipes in some old buildings, including school premises. The material may come loose when repairs or replacements are made, or simply from the passage of time. Asthmatic children may be especially susceptible to developing health problems from such exposure, but even the healthiest child faces a cancer risk or a risk of irreversible respiratory problems when asbestos is involved.

The most dangerous exposure to asbestos can be prolonged exposure inside a closed space, such as a classroom, basement, or gymnasium. When school officials become aware of such exposure, their immediate concern should be cleaning up the material to avoid future exposure, which is extremely important. But just as important is emphasizing to parents of children already exposed what their next steps should be.

Source: WIVB, "What should parents do about asbestos?" Al Vaughters, March 26, 2012

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