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August 30, 2017

New School Year, Same Threat of Asbestos

Decades after asbestos production became illegal and importation regulated, many school districts around the country are still dealing with this popular building material that is a world-wide health hazard. This is mainly because many schools built before 1980 contain asbestos; it was cheap, easy to install, fire resistant, and acted as an insulator. As time passes and these school buildings begin to deteriorate, renovation is required. It is during that time that asbestos fibers may become exposed, friable, and pose a threat to students, faculty, and staff.

Many schools today are being proactive in their efforts to check for potential health hazards like asbestos, before the school year begins. The Easton Area School District in the Lehigh Valley conducted environmental surveys to a number of their schools to check for asbestos, lead paint, and air quality issues. It’s been 30 years or more since some of the buildings went under renovation and plans to replace plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems could reveal asbestos hidden in the overall structure. Demolition of an old elementary school for the construction of a brand new one could potentially expose the demolition workers and those in living in the surrounding area to asbestos fibers, but an environmental firm will closely monitor all demolition procedures and continually check for other hazardous materials that may be released.

The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) is a law enacted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that requires any type of school or educational platform to conduct inspections for any asbestos-containing material. If asbestos is found, then the law requires officials to produce an asbestos management plan, and reduce asbestos levels in the buildings. In 1990 a provision was implemented to the AHERA that now requires the EPA to assist, direct, and enable institutions to be able to follow the correct protocol. Under these laws, parents have the right to come forward and question the school district about their asbestos abatement process and request copies of inspection records and management plans if they are concerned. Under the AHERA, school districts are required to have these documents.

Long-term health effects from asbestos exposure include lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma. Asbestos-related injuries are entirely preventable, but because of many companies’ negligence, the carcinogen has been allowed to exist and be used for decades while people were unaware of the dangers.  If you are suffering from an asbestos-related disease, contact the attorneys at Goldberg, Persky & White. Our expertise in asbestos lawsuits makes us leaders in our industry and we will help you fight for the compensation you deserve.

 

Source:

Rudy Miller, “Asbestos, lead, air quality to be checked at Eastern Area school projects,” Lehigh Valley Live (August 27, 2017). [Link]

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