N.J. School Parents Concerned over Timing of Asbestos Abatement

Planned asbestos removal in a northern New Jersey school led to outrage among concerned parents – worried that the planned abatement could compromise the health of their children.

As the abatement was scheduled to be performed over the course of a weekend in May (which is during the school year), many felt that they should have been warned ahead of time as students would be back in classrooms the following Monday. It is yet another story that really shows how asbestos’ image has changed among the general population in recent years and how important communication is when talking about asbestos exposure. It seems education and awareness regarding asbestos has been working in instilling the realization of the dangers that exist with asbestos.

Here is a summary of the article: Leonia superintendent Bernard Josefsberg held meetings the following week to address parents’ concerns – among them the accusation that he was trying to ‘cover up’ safety risks, and that children coming to school on Monday would be at a higher risk for exposure. He worked to assure parents there were no safety risks and that asbestos abatement is common among schools in New Jersey.

A representative of the consulting group monitoring the abatement work said there was nothing unusual or dangerous about working on a weekend while school was still in session, adding that New Jersey has some of the most stringent regulations on asbestos removal in the entire country. Regardless, Josefsberg decided to postpone abatement work until summer, to avoid any further confrontation with parents and assure the safety of the children.

One parent was satisfied with the meeting, but said he would rather have held it a month beforehand. “Anytime you hear the word asbestos, it sets off alarm bells,” said the parent. Another parent lamented the fact that the entire matter was born out of non-communication between faculty and parents, indicating how one can never be too careful when dealing with a subject like asbestos.