Back-to-school time comes with asbestos concerns

As the summer winds down to a close, kids all across North Carolina and their parents are turning their attentions back to school and thinking about homework, new class schedules and having much less free time.

However, in some areas, parents may also be worried about the health and safety of their children who will be spending all day almost every day in a building that could be contaminated with toxic materials. This may be a concern for many people across this state if the schools their children attend contain asbestos.

School buildings all across the world contain asbestos products as the fiber was widely used in materials like floor tiling, roofing and insulation; schools in the U.S. are no different. Over the years, buildings that have not been renovated, rebuilt or reconstructed may certainly still contain asbestos.

In many cases, school districts are doing what they can to cover up or get rid of asbestos because of the serious risk it poses to the children and staff who spend so much time in the buildings. However, there are some challenges that come with this process.

To begin with, construction can take a long time, forcing schools to make significant adjustments to class size and/or location even if the project was scheduled to end before classes started up again. Another challenge comes as a result of funding. Some schools cannot afford the expense of a complete abatement so they either delay projects or do them in sections, which can lead people to believe that asbestos is gone even though it still may still remain.

Schools are just like any other building when it comes to asbestos. If asbestos is found, it should be addressed as quickly as possible to prevent toxic exposure. However, because so many of the potential exposure victims in schools are children, it can be more crucial than ever that asbestos is removed quickly, effectively and safely. If it is not, victims of asbestos-related illnesses may have grounds to take legal action.

Source: WJTV, “Asbestos complaints pour in with school starting back tomorrow in Amite county,” Lucy Dieckhaus, Aug. 5, 0215