As school starts back, most parents are concerned with their children studying, getting good grades, and staying safe. Asbestos is one safety issue, however, that not many parents think about when sending their children off to school. While it’s true that asbestos generally isn’t a threat as long as it’s contained, there still remains several myths about the dangerous mineral that anyone with children in schools built prior to the mid 1980s should be aware of.
Myth #1- There isn’t enough asbestos in school to make kids sick
The truth is there is no safe level of asbestos, especially for children, who breathe quicker than adults. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the “overall evidence” in a number of studies have proven that while chances of developing a life-threatening illness increase each time asbestos exposure occurs, it’s untrue that small amounts of exposure are risk-free.
That being said, schools must always have an asbestos maintenance plan in place, and the buildings must be routinely checked for issues. If any school repairs need to be made, a professional, licensed asbestos professional must be on hand to oversee the project, and parents must always be notified.
Myth #2- There isn’t asbestos in schools anymore
While that may true for schools that were built recently, school building constructed before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed strict regulations on asbestos use may still contain the dangerous mineral. This includes schools all across the nation, from schools in big cities to schools in small towns. A study by the EPA also indicates that half of the U.S. schools in use today were built during a time in which asbestos use was at its peak.
Myth #3- Asbestos is banned
Ironically, even with a myriad of studies that confirm asbestos is dangerous to health, it still remains legal in the U.S. Even worse, it’s sometimes used in common school supplies, particularly crayons. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that in 2015, the following crayons were found to contain asbestos:
- Amscan Crayons
- Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Crayons
- Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Crayons
- Saban’s Power Rangers Super Megaforce Crayons
Myth #4- Children aren’t affected by asbestos
In general, elderly people tend to develop asbestos-related illnesses more than any other age group, but that’s generally because diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer can lie dormant for up to 50 years. Furthermore, there are always exceptions to the rule. The youngest known victim of an asbestos-related disease, Sophie Ellis, was just 13 when she was diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Myth #5 – Only construction workers and crews working around asbestos at schools are in danger
Again, anyone who inhales asbestos fibers is at risk, regardless of occupation or age. This also includes school teachers. In fact, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) states that teachers are twice as likely to develop an asbestos-related illness when compared to other occupations. According to a study performed on educators and asbestos, “none of these persons physically handled the asbestos in the course of his or her employment as a teacher.”
What Can Parents Do?
The easiest way to understand asbestos in schools and the regulations each school must follow is to get involved and remain aware. For more information, see our story, Parents Rights Involving Asbestos In School.
Additional Help and Resources
If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Fill out our form to get a free Financial Compensation Packet. You’ll learn about the top mesothelioma lawyers in your area, how to get paid in 90 days, how to file a claim for the asbestos trust funds, and more. If you need additional assistance, contact us at 800-793-4540.