Although public and non-profit private United States school districts must follow strict guidelines to ensure asbestos is contained and safe for staff and students, its presence continues to be a problem. Recently, the toxic mineral turned up in schools in both Alabama and Missouri, indicating that the nationwide problem of asbestos in schools continues to surface.
Two school buildings in Kirksville, Missouri’s Heartland School District were recently found to have asbestos in at least two buildings, one of which is the ceiling of a high school classroom. The asbestos was found during a school renovation, which has prompted school officials to look at other schools in the district, said Superintendent Dr. Damon Kizzire.
“We are going to be working on removing that through the summer, as well as we have also talked about the idea of replacing some of the boilers at the middle school and Ray Miller. What we have found is Ray Miller has asbestos wrapped around the center of the duct work and we are going to be removing that also.”
Bay Minnette, Alabama
Meanwhile, parents at Bay Minnette Elementary School in Bay Minnette, Alabama, recently faced a bigger scare, as documents state that the school failed federal and state guidelines set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Not only did the Baldwin County School District fail to tell parents that the elementary school contained asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), but they also did not have a required plan of action to abate the asbestos should it disrupt.
Principal Averette Hale, however, doesn’t think there is a problem. In a recent tour he provided to a local news station, the principal pointed out all of the repairs being done to ensure students are safe. Yet, the library to the school was completely sealed off due to an asbestos problem.
Additionally, students are walking around school with wires exposed, holes in the walls, and no fire or sprinkler system.
On April 16, numerous parents turned up for a school board meeting, where they expressed their concerns for their children’s health and the threat of asbestos exposure. Many parents withdrew their children from school until the problem was solved, including Michael Ivey, who has a daughter in the 1st grade at Bay Minnette.
“If we’re not convinced it’s safe, we’re definitely not going to send her.”
Tests results indicate that students are not in any immediate threat of asbestos exposure, but its important to note that although only a small amount of asbestos may have been found, there is no safe level of it, as indicated by numerous organizations, such as the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
A Nationwide Problem in Schools
Unfortunately, the aforementioned stories are common and a widespread problem across the United States. Prior to the late 1970s, thousands of schools, which are still in use today, were built with ACMS.
Although schools are required to take safety measures to ensure safety, it seems that if parents across the nation are not always aware when their children attend schools that were built with asbestos, even though the school district is required by law to inform them.
A Worldwide Problem in Schools
Asbestos risks have affected Europe for decades. Similar to the United States, many U.K. schools were built with ACMS, and many of the buildings are still in use today. Not only are students at risk of asbestos, but teachers as well.
In 2014, U.K. Art teacher Jennifer Barnett passed away from malignant mesothelioma. Health records indicate that her disease came from occupational exposure. For numerous years, the teacher pinned her students’ art work to asbestos-containing walls.
What Can Parents Do?
If children attend an older school, a parent must be given information that details routine maintenance, what to do in an emergency, and if there are any known asbestos issues. For complete information on your rights, contact the EPA’s Asbestos Hotline at 800-368-5888.
Additional Information and Resources
Keep in mind that if you or a loved one were injured by asbestos, you may be entitled to significant compensation. We invite you to fill out our contact form today to get free brochures from the top mesothelioma attorneys in your area. If you have questions or need assistance, feel free to contact us at 800-694-4856.