Teachers and Asbestos Exposure
Before the 1980s, asbestos was seen as an ideal construction material, particularly for wall and ceiling insulation such as in schools. When the asbestos products were installed, they would have been stable. However, the material may now be dry and friable if it is still in place.
While asbestos is not dangerous when intact, once the friable particles get old they can break off and become airborne. This means it’s easy for nearby teachers to inhale or ingest the fibers, putting them at risk of asbestos diseases like mesothelioma.
An EPA survey from 1984 estimated that 15 million students and 1.4 million teachers and employees within 35,000 U.S. schools were exposed to airborne asbestos fibers. Sadly, many school districts have not yet taken the necessary precautions to abate asbestos contaminants from their properties.
Most asbestos was installed in schools between 1940 and 1980, meaning most buildings require renovation today.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates asbestos removal and requires that all public and private schools be inspected every 3 years. If asbestos is found in the air, the source must either be removed or sealed to avoid releasing the harmful fibers.