Back to School: Asbestos Edition

As a parent, you worry about so many new changes in your children’s life at the start of the school year, but you may not even think of worrying about old hazards at their school, like asbestos. Communities work constantly to make schools the safest place possible for their students and protecting our children from asbestos exposure should be another priority to consider.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos, once considered a miracle mineral, was used in all sorts of commercial and residential construction in the twentieth century, like schools, for it’s fire resistant properties and its strength and flexibility. In an undisturbed state, asbestos is safe. But it’s when asbestos becomes broken, or friable, through activities like remodeling in schools, that it can be dangerous to our children’s health. If someone is continuously exposed and has prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibers, it can cause serious illnesses, including malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.

Does my school contain asbestos?

Public schools, non-profit private schools, charter schools, and religious affiliated schools are regulated by the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) to inspect schools for the presence of asbestos and create management plans to reduce the risk of asbestos hazards. There are also added regulations around the removal of asbestos during renovations or school demolition projects.

Despite federal and various state laws surrounding the issue of asbestos exposure and mandated school inspections, a parent can never be too safe. It has been shown that even the smallest exposure to asbestos fibers can cause asbestos-related diseases. With a long latency period of 30-50 years, many individuals will not know that they’ve been exposed until much later in life.

What can I do to help?

Many people don’t realize that asbestos is not yet banned completely in the United States and many other countries. While asbestos use today is rather limited, human error can play a part in hazardous occurrences of asbestos exposure when previous use of this material becomes disturbed. One way you can help is to spread awareness of this deadly fiber and it’s potential dangers by speaking to your school’s officials, perhaps the school principal, about asbestos use as well as prior inspections in the building and tell other parents about any red flags. Another way is to become involved in the asbestos awareness community and help protect the rights of current and future asbestos exposure victims.

Our children are not the only ones who must learn new things this upcoming school year; by becoming informed about asbestos and where it can be found, you can help protect your family and loved ones from potential exposure. The Asbestos Cancer Victims’ Rights Campaign (ACVRC) is dedicated to both informing the public of asbestos dangers and protecting the rights of those already affected. By signing your name in support of the ACVRC and sharing our initiative, you will not only help us in protecting the rights of all asbestos cancer victims, but also in pressuring Congress to more closely consider the deadly effects of asbestos and their inherent dangers to our country’s future generations.