Asbestos in Schools
Before the 1970s, asbestos was used in a huge number of buildings for a variety of purposes. Educational facilities were sadly no exception to the prominent use of this dangerous mineral. Across the country, asbestos was used in a variety of applications within schools.
Some common uses of asbestos in schools included floor tiles, ceiling tiles, acoustical plaster, insulation on pipes, and general fireproofing materials. In states that experience cold weather, asbestos was present in the large quantities of insulation that were used to keep heating costs down. Fortunately, the public grew alarmed about the presence of asbestos in schools and so steps have been taken to remove asbestos from many places.
One of the biggest advantages, safety wise, of asbestos in schools over other potential sources of exposure is that there are laws in place that require schools of a certain age to have an asbestos management plan in place. This plan has to be developed by individuals who are professionals in asbestos management and requires schools to create a concrete plan to combat exposure to asbestos in their buildings.
As schools with asbestos in them age, the chances of asbestos being leaked into the air increase. The materials that contain asbestos are continuously aging and often require repairs which can release asbestos fibers into the air. In addition, asbestos containing materials may start to decay or decompose on their own which also can release fibers into the air.
In addition to the potential for exposure to asbestos in the building itself, schools in about 20 different states also need to be concerned about near-surface deposits of asbestos on playgrounds, practice fields, and school grounds in general. California has taken steps to require that unpaved areas around schools all be inspected for asbestos deposits.