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Report: Mishandling of Asbestos in Schools Causes Problems

According to the The Huffington Post, asbestos in classrooms has become a major problem across the country. Schools are reportedly not handling the problem well.  The reporter notes that any older school building likely has asbestos, and some of that asbestos could be harming your children.

asbestosTo get an idea of how bad the problem has become, we can first look at data collected by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the mid 1980s.  At that time, the EPA released an estimate that more than 100,000 grade schools contained asbestos and over 700,000 public buildings did as well in the U.S.  As if this was not bad enough, they estimated that of those 100,000 schools slightly more than a third of them contained friable asbestos.

As your Boston mesothelioma lawyer can discuss, friable asbestos is asbestos material that is capable of being crushed under the power of a human hand.  The reason this is so dangerous is because of the way in which asbestos makes people sick.  The deadly asbestos fibers must be inhaled or ingested, and this means the fibers must be loose.  There is not much risk that someone will inhale fibers trapped in a floor tile, but if we break that tile and it is giving off dust, it is not hard to see how someone would inhale those fibers.

These roughly 34,000 schools containing friable asbestos were putting around 16 million people each year at risk, and many of these people were school students and teachers as well as vendors and administrators who are in the schools on a regular basis.   It should be noted that while many people think private schools are not the same as public schools, the EPA did not make such a finding with respect to the problems related to asbestos exposure.  In other words, you children are not any less likely to be exposed to asbestos in a private school than they are in a public school.

These number should not be to surprising, since that was in the 1980s and was just after the time the public became aware of the dangers of asbestos in terms of its ability to cause malignant mesothelioma. It was a few years after the ban (which was later overturned) on asbestos, and one would expect these numbers would get better if looked at more recent numbers.  This is where we start to see more problems.

It seems that instead of working to systematically abate any asbestos present in the school and replace it with new asbestos free materials, many of these schools simply did nothing.  This means that the rate of friable asbestos increased and building materials broke down over time and the number of schools containing friable asbestos is much higher.  We are also seeing more school closures than ever before.

As for the asbestos ban, once it was largely overturned, there have been restrictions in place for decades, but these restrictions had loopholes that allowed for the import and sale of asbestos materials in the U.S.  These loopholes have finally been removed by the very recent signing of a toxic materials safety bill.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Mismanaged Asbestos In US Schools Threatens Millions Of Children And Teachers, August 29, 2016, By Linda Reinstein, The Huffington Post

More Blog Entries:

Rondon v. Hennessy Industries, Inc. – “Inevitable Use” Standard in Asbestos Litigation, July 2, 2016, Boston Mesothelioma Attorney Blog