Many schools in Boston and across New England were built during a time when asbestos was heavily used in construction. The asbestos was deadly to the miners who unearthed the material and to the workers who installed it in the schools, but, generally speaking, asbestos is no longer harmful to occupants of a building. The reason for this is because asbestos was used in wall joint compounds and many other things, but, unless it is being disturbed, there is not a great risk of inhaling the deadly fibers.
However, if a building is not properly maintained and is allowed to fall apart, the risk of asbestos exposure skyrockets for anyone inside. Unfortunately, due to budgetary shortcomings, it is fairly common for schools to end up in very bad condition to the point where students are at a high risk for asbestos exposure.
According to a recent news feature from NBC, one New England high school was just forced to close because of asbestos problems. The school found out there was a problem following some significant flooding in the gymnasium. The basketball court was covered with water, and, when the water was finally pumped out, the floor in the center of the wooden court was left in a severely warped and buckling condition. School officials had the floor inspected, and it was confirmed that there was asbestos in the subfloor that was falling apart, and this caused concerns of asbestos exposure to students and staff. While the school assured its students and parents that air quality tests confirmed the air was fine to breathe, there do not seem to be too many people willing to take that chance with kids’ safety, so the school will remain closed during the asbestos abatement project.
Asbestos abatement must be performed by a certified asbestos removal contractor and only after submitting an abatement plan and receiving a permit. All workers involved in the project must be properly trained in the removal of deadly asbestos fibers and must be provided with proper safety equipment, including respirators or ventilators. The asbestos must also be wet down to prevent any unnecessary dust from entering the air, and the asbestos debris must be packed in approved containers and taken to a hazardous waste disposal facility authorized to handle asbestos waste.
Boston asbestos exposure attorneys have seen many cases where landowners simply hired day laborers or used their own employees to remove the asbestos waste from a jobsite and throw it out with regular solid waste without ever informing the workers what they were doing and the risks they were facing. The reason they often do not tell the workers is that most people would not voluntarily expose themselves to the toxic asbestos fibers.
In these cases, not only do the landowners run the risk of a civil personal injury suit, but also of being fined tens of thousands of dollars, and criminal charges have been filed in some cases, as well. These unscrupulous employers are willing to take the risk with their workers’ safety because they know it will take decades before they become sick.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.
New London High School Closes Tuesday to Remove Asbestos, October 4, 2015, NBC News, by Max Reiss
More Blog Entries:
Can Family of Asbestos Workers Sue for Illness?, September 15, 2014, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers Blog