A lot of thought and preparation goes into sending children off to school, including making sure that they’re dressed appropriately for the weather, that they have a healthy snack or lunch, they understand the rules regarding looking both ways at crosswalks and don’t speak with strangers.
With all of the sports activities involved in the school curriculum, one would assume that they were raising children in a healthy atmosphere. But little do children or their parents know about the dangers surrounding asbestos. There have been many studies over the years regarding the relationship between children who are exposed to asbestos at a young age and the development of health issues, such as mesothelioma, in their later years.
Cancerous Materials in Schools
Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer, and it is being traced back to schools or other public buildings frequented by people at an early age. In fact, one study performed in the UK concluded that children who are exposed to asbestos might be 3.5 times more prone to develop mesothelioma as adults. The reason for that is simple. In young people, their organs are still growing and might be more susceptible to cell damage. In addition, by being exposed at an early age their long-life expectancy can increase chances that they’ll be alive to the age where they could develop asbestos-induced cancers such as mesothelioma.
Why There Is Asbestos in Schools and Public Buildings
From the 1950s until 1969, asbestos was seen as a miracle product that should be added to every type of building material in order to increase its fire resistance and durability. Of course, no one was aware of the risks of Abestos.Net at the time. Up until the 1980s, it was still being used as insulation for classrooms, school hallways, auditoriums, and even teacher’s lounges. Here are a few of the common places asbestos was used:
- Backing and glue to adhere to vinyl floors
- Vinyl floors
- Ceiling tiles
- Pipe insulation
- Duct systems for heating and cooling
- Cement sheets
- Boiler insulation
- Popcorn ceilings (textured)
- Removing Asbestos from Schools
Congress passed an act that should have protected students in 1986. The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) required schools to conduct inspections that would reduce asbestos hazards. Unfortunately, according to a report in 2018, the EPA is conducting very few inspections, so the existence of dangerous asbestos in many schools is not being addressed. The EPA notes that children are more at risk than teachers because they are young, active, breathe faster through their mouth and spend more time near the floor where asbestos fibers can linger.
What Can a Parent Do to Protect Children?
Since asbestos is a hidden carcinogen, it’s hard to know where it is lurking. Parents and concerned citizens can contact the officials of their school districts to confirm that they are adhering to AHERA protocol. Children can be advised to report faulty ceiling tiles and to avoid areas where they are being remodeled. Doing research about asbestos is key, so look to resources like Asbestos.Net for helpful information.