Asbestos in Schools for February 16th, 2009

In COLUMBUS, OH, three fourths of the classrooms were flooded at Moler Elementary School after a water pipe burst. The flooding lifted some asbestos-containing tiles from the floor, which prompted at least one parent to keep her child at home. According to both the Ohio Department of Health and the school, the uprooted tiles did not appear to be a health hazard, but a licensed contractor was hired to safely remove them from the building. Air quality tests at the school showed no asbestos in the air where it could be inhaled and cause a problem. In MESA, AZ, $2,400 in fines were handed down to the Noah Webster Basic School for asbestos violations.

The U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) found that in 2007, the school did not conduct an asbestos assessment nor did it have a plan on file to deal with the carcinogen should it have been found. Both of these were requirements of all schools in the United States. Following the fine, the school had an inspector assess the building for asbestos. None was found, and an asbestos action plan has since been created for the school. These actions conform to the federal laws. The action plan is required to have a person in charge of implementing it, and it must be made available to parents, students, and staff of the school annually. The negligence of the Webster Basic School to show the findings of a negative asbestos report to the EPA stemmed from a misunderstanding, according to the school’s business manager, Vicky Dry. She claimed that when the school was constructed in 2005, the architect did not show an affidavit to the EPA showing the lack of asbestos in the construction. “We didn’t have that form so they (the EPA) said we weren’t compliant…. We had to spend money to get everything put together … and the expenses came out of the fine … so basically no payment to the EPA.” The school is now compliant with the federal asbestos requirements.