Mesothelioma Risk Delays Start of Vermont School

Shoreham, V.T. – Students at the Shoreham Elementary School will have to wait at least two more weeks to go back to school after officials found asbestos, the toxic mineral that may lead to mesothelioma. That’s because asbestos was found throughout the school, officials said. The deadly material was discovered during routine carpet cleaning in July. Floor tiles under the carpets complicated matters, when it was found that they also contained asbestos. Though asbestos is relatively safe when undisturbed, as it was before this summer, the carpet cleaning process would disrupt the asbestos fibers, releasing them into the air and making them breathable. As a result, asbestos abatement was required. School is set to reopen on September 14, but officials say it may take longer. “We didn’t know [that we’d have to delay the opening of the school] until the beginning of this week. Until the work is completed … we cannot be absolute about a start date,” Shoreham Elementary School Principal Heather Best commented. “All the information that we needed to make our best estimate came in yesterday. We are fairly positive that we’ll be able to meet that date.” Exposure to friable asbestos may be fatal, possibly causing respiratory difficulties, lung diseases, and the cancer mesothelioma. When microscopic asbestos fibers are breathed in, they become lodged in the mesothelium, a protective membrane that lines the chest cavity and allows the lungs to expand and contract, a necessary function of breathing. When contaminated, this lining fails to do its job, making breathing difficult and making the body vulnerable to lung cancer and other diseases. Researchers continue to work hard developing the best treatment methods. Best stated the news in a letter to parents, urging them to look at the delay as “a gift, an extended summer vacation and time with your family before children return to school.”