School has officially started back for most kids in the U.S., and many are returning (or starting) to school buildings that were built prior to strict regulations placed on asbestos. This means that children attending schools built before the mid 1980s may be learning in buildings that were constructed with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). If you’re a parent or caregiver of a child or children who attend an older school, consider the following tips that can help protect your kids, so that they can focus on learning.
Keep Yourself Informed
All too often, parents are left in the dark about asbestos rules in schools, although it’s their legal right to know about them and be informed about what’s going on at their child’s school. For example, all parents have the right to any and all asbestos inspection reports associated with their kid’s school. The records should always be accessible to parents, and if not, Alex Formuzis of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) urges parents to press for the information until they receive it. According to Formuzis,
“If those records are not readily accessible from the school’s front office or the school district, I’d urge parents to demand they make they available. Those records are, in many ways, the best evidence of whether or not their children are in the areas of the school where asbestos is present.”
Learn the EPA Guidelines for Asbestos and Schools
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides a ton of information regarding school safety and asbestos, including the guidelines that each school must follow. It’s important to learn all you can asbestos, says the president of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), Linda Reinstein. The more knowledge you have about asbestos, the easier it will be understood when your student is at risk of exposure.
“Students, teachers and staff should be protected from asbestos. The fear of the unknown is unimaginable when a child has been exposed at school. With each cough, a parent waits in anguish, wondering if their child will one day be diagnosed with an asbestos-caused disease. There is no safe level of asbestos exposure, as prevention remains the only cure.”
The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) requires that all public and non-profit schools (including charter schools) that were built with any form of asbestos-containing products or materials must:
- Ensure that an asbestos management plan is always in place and keep a copy of the plan at the school, where the public can inspect it upon request.
- Provide parents with annual notifications of the asbestos management plan in place for the school year.
- Alert parents any time a repair is scheduled at the school.
- Have a designated contact person who makes sure the asbestos management plans are carried out.
- Perform routine inspections and surveillance (by a certified asbestos professional) on the building, specifically looking for any asbestos issues.
Keep in mind that if asbestos is managed properly by a certified, professional asbestos professional, it’s likely that children in older school buildings are safe. It’s only when friable asbestos is disturbed that it becomes a more serious problem. Friable asbestos can easily crumble and become airborne, and the fibers can be easily inhaled.
If you feel that your child’s school isn’t following the required AHERA laws or if the school is denying access to information on asbestos, contact us for assistance as 800-793-4540. You can also contact the EPA’s asbestos hotline at 800-368-5888 or 202-566-1970 (if you live in the DC area.)
Additional Information and Assistance for Asbestos Victims
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 receive our free Financial Compensation Packet. Our packet is loaded with information on leading mesothelioma attorneys in your area, how to file a claim for asbestos trust funds, how to get paid in 90 days, and more.