Roundup: Asbestos in the Schools

Students at the LaGrange Middle School in LaGrange, New York, were sent home early on June 18th after a wall containing asbestos construction materials was accidentally pierced by eight screws during the installation of a new smoke detector in the school cafeteria. The cafeteria was immediately closed, and students were sent home for the day shortly thereafter. The damaged wall was immediately sealed off and LaGrange superintendent of schools Frank V. Pepe Jr. ordered immediate tests of the air and ceiling near the perforation. The tests came back that evening and indicated that no asbestos fibers had been released. Students returned to the school the following day, and a letter was sent out to parents to apprise them of the reason for the early closing. The school was built in 1966 and has undergone renovations on and off throughout its lifetime. In Provo, Utah, Grandview Elementary School is scheduled for a partial demolition once asbestos-contaminated construction materials are removed from the building.

Crews are removing the asbestos from approximately 30,000 square feet of the 47,000 square foot facility, prior to the demolition of the larger area. The 17,000 remaining square feet will be used as part of a new facility on the site. Utah Division of Air Quality environmental program manager Robert Ford said that because asbestos is known to cause cancer, state and federal regulations require that asbestos be removed from the building prior to demolition, as asbestos fibers would likely be released into the air during the demolition project. Asbestos is often found within floor tiles, shingles, building glue, and other construction elements. The school will be allowing former students, teachers, and community members to take bricks from the structure home as souvenirs; the bricks are not contaminated by asbestos fibers. Grandview Elementary has been in use for more than fifty years.