September 13, 2023
Asbestos is a mineral that is known for its carcinogenic properties. Asbestos was once widely used in a range of construction materials, including those used in school buildings. Unfortunately, despite the fact that there is no level of asbestos exposure that is considered safe, asbestos is still found in many schools across the country, including Pennsylvania. This puts teachers, administration, and children at an increased risk for asbestos-related diseases, including lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma.
The following are examples of products that may contain asbestos, particularly in older school buildings:
- Acoustic panels
- Asbestos boards
- Asbestos tiles, including floors, walls, and ceilings
- Duct adhesive
- Duct insulation
- Fireproofing materials
- Heating ducts and systems
- Popcorn ceilings
- School supplies, including crayons
- Wiring insulation
What Pennsylvania Schools Have Known Asbestos Contamination?
There are a number of Pennsylvania school districts that have faced serious asbestos concerns in recent years, including the following:
- Scranton School District: In 2016, routine inspections found 70 instances of asbestos in a number of schools in the district. School officials were notified about the problem, but they chose to withhold the information from district officials, staff, parents, and students.
- Philadelphia School District: In 2018, millions of asbestos fibers were found in elementary schools throughout the Philadelphia School District. In the 2019-2020 school year, 11 schools in the district were closed due to asbestos contamination.
Are Students at an Increased Risk for Asbestos Exposure?
If asbestos is present in the school, it means that students, teachers, administrators, and school staff are at all at risk of being exposed to this dangerous carcinogen. However, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG), children may be at risk of asbestos exposure for the following reasons:
- Children are more active and tend to breathe faster than adults.
- Children are more likely to breathe in asbestos fibers through their mouths.
- Children spend more time on the floor where asbestos fibers are likely to settle.
- Young children tend to put crayons, toys, and other items in their mouths.
How Can Asbestos Exposure in School Be Prevented?
According to the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), all school districts, including public, private, and religious schools, must follow guidelines that reduce the risk of asbestos exposure, including:
- Perform regular inspections of school buildings to determine whether asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) are present.
- Schools with ACMs must have asbestos management plans in place in order to address these serious issues.
- Employees may not handle materials until they have received asbestos awareness training.
- Following an initial inspection, all school and administrative buildings must be inspected every three years.
- If asbestos is found, the materials must be inspected every six months to identify any degrading.
- School employees and parent organizations must be notified about any asbestos management and removal projects.
Philadelphia Asbestos Lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler Represent Clients With Asbestos Diseases
If you or a loved one was diagnosed with an asbestos disease, speak with our Philadelphia asbestos lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 215-569-4000 or contact us online. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients in Delaware County, Chester County, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.