Public schools should be a safe space in which students can learn and prepare for their bright futures. Parents often send their children off to class without much consideration for the potential health and safety risks associated with school. Unfortunately, many schools built prior to the 1980s actually have environments that are dangerous for both students and the professionals who work inside the building.
Report auditing records from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released in September of 2018 indicate that a large number of school buildings across the United States have unacceptable or even dangerous levels of asbestos contamination.
In fact, it is likely that as many as one out of every three public school buildings in the country have asbestos contamination to some degree. Tracking which schools have contamination is difficult, especially because EPA agents have lagged significantly in tracking and testing asbestos levels at schools. This may have put professionals and students at unnecessary risk of serious medical consequences.
Only a fraction of schools have had adequate testing
The report about the EPA’s testing for the potential asbestos contamination in North American schools is particularly concerning because it highlights the fact that the EPA has not engaged in adequate oversight when it comes to testing for and reporting on asbestos contamination in schools.
The report looked at records from between 2011 and 2015. During that time, the EPA conducted roughly 13 percent of the necessary compliance inspections. Some states did not do any inspections whatsoever during a similar period of time between 2012 and 2016. Both the students in those schools, as well as the teachers and maintenance workers, could end up unnecessarily exposed to asbestos in an educational environment that should be safe.
The impact of asbestos in schools may not be known for years
Chronic exposure to airborne asbestos particulate can cause severe health problems. Unfortunately, those health conditions, including mesothelioma, a deadly and relatively rare cancer, often take decades to develop.
A student or employee may have moved on in the decades between their exposure and their diagnosis. Looking far back into a person’s history is a critical part of determining the source of an asbestos-related case of mesothelioma. Employees who worked for the public schools and later develop mesothelioma, as well as students who had no other exposure before becoming ill, may have grounds to seek compensation for any illnesses they develop as a result of asbestos exposure.
Each case is unique, and proving asbestos contamination contributed to a medical condition requires extensive research. If you believe that you or a loved one has become ill because of asbestos in schools, it may be time to start exploring your legal rights for compensation and justice.