Asbestos Still Hazardous in Schools in Boston

A recent news feature from the Huffington Post begins with the premise that most Americans believe the asbestos crisis was largely solved thirty years ago when it stopped being used in residential and commercial construction and in most aspects of production. However, as the author points out, and we are now well aware, the asbestos crisis is far from over.

warning-icon-45-1023139-mThe event that occurred thirty years ago was Congress passing the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA). This federal law helped make the general public aware of the hazardous nature of asbestos fibers.

These fibers are so dangerous because, once they are inhaled, there is no way for the body to remove them. There is also no way for doctors to remove them. Once they become embedded in a layer of tissue known as the mesothelium, they can metastasize into a deadly form of cancer known as mesothelioma. Tumors can form in the lungs, where it is known as malignant pleural mesothelioma. If tumors form in the chest cavity, it is known as malignant pericardial mesothelioma, and if the tumors form in the abdominal cavity, they are known as malignant peritoneal mesothelioma. All three types of malignant mesothelioma are very deadly, and the tumors can quickly spread to other parts of the body.

It typically takes between 20 and 50 years for a person to develop symptoms of malignant mesothelioma. These symptoms often include shortness of breath and stomach pain. Once a person goes to his or her doctor and is diagnosed with mesothelioma, he or she will likely have only a very short period of time left to live, and there is little doctors can do to change this. The treatment that exists is very invasive, does not have a very high success rate, and even in the best cases scenario, a patient might get to live one or two more years.

While many private residences have been renovated over the years, and asbestos has been abated, schools and other governmental instructions, such as state hospitals, are often in very bad shape and have not undergone an asbestos abatement process. We are literally seeing schools with asbestos tile peeling off the floors and asbestos ceiling tiles falling and shattering into pieces. It should be noted that when asbestos crumbles or shatters, it gives off dust, and that is why asbestos in this condition is the most dangerous. When it is possible to crumble asbestos-laden material with the pressure of a human hand, it is known as friable asbestos and should be avoided at all costs.

While AHERA was largely created with schools in mind, as there are specific reporting requirements, the Massachusetts Teachers Association has recently discovered that more than a thousand schools in the Commonwealth are refusing to provide documentation showing they are complying with all AHERA requirements. This is a very serious issue, because we want to make sure our children are not being exposed to asbestos in Boston area schools or any other school in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

Additional resources:

Asbestos at School: Is THAT What Your Child Is Breathing?, December 29, 2015, Huffington Post, by News Desk

More Blog Entries:

Mesothelioma Lawsuits for Shipyard Workers, July 30, 2014, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers Blog

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