Minnesota schools shut down while officials examine asbestos floor tiling

Junior and senior high schools in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, were shut down because asbestos floor tiles appear to be breaking apart because of tracked-in sand and salt.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported a state health official saying the tiles didn’t appear to present an immediate health danger to the approximately 1,000 students at both schools.

"For any parent with kids there, they should not be concerned," Dan Locher, supervisor of the asbestos and lead unit at the Minnesota Department of Health, told the Star Tribune. "Most likely they weren’t getting exposed to asbestos."

Staff at the schools complained recently about dust outside a nurse’s office, which led to testing for asbestos.

The newspaper reported that a protective wax layer on flooring at the high school has been worn down by salt and sand tracked in from roads and sidewalks. Similar flooring exists at the nearby junior high.

Asbestos fibers that become airborne are a health danger to anyone in the vicinity, and are linked to lung cancer, malignant mesothelioma and asbestosis. That connection to the hazardous mineral has been the focus of many asbestos settlements and mesothelioma lawsuits in recent years.