Asbestos is a fibrous silicate mineral that is used in the construction of commercial and residential buildings. It is made of thin and long fibrous crystals, and this material is also found in school buildings. However, asbestos was primarily used for construction purposes before the 1980s. According to a research study, from 1950 to 1969, almost half of the school buildings were built in the United States. And during this period, the use of asbestos was at its peak. It shows the possibility of asbestos presence in school buildings on a large scale.
Due to growing concerns about its use’s impact on health and safety, asbestos manufacturing was discontinued by the 1980s. Although, asbestos is not dangerous when it is in good condition. But the presence of asbestos material can be a high risk if it deteriorates and releases fibers.
Without further delay, let’s explore this guide that will help you know everything about asbestos found in schools.
Asbestos Lawsuits and Compensation in Schools
Asbestos exposure in the school can be risky for students and teaching staff. If asbestos-containing products are damaged, they can release harmful particles into the air, by inhaling those particles can cause mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer.
Someone who developed mesothelioma while on school property may launch an asbestos claim against the institution’s administrators.
How can you file a lawsuit, and what is mesothelioma? Every member of the school personnel must know about it so that they can take legal action accordingly. There have been cases in the past where exposed individuals have filed a lawsuit against the school. In 2019, a teacher named Lea Dirusso was diagnosed with mesothelioma while working in the Philadelphia school. After filing a lawsuit against the school district, Lea received compensation of $850,000 for her exposure.
A victim in such cases can also file a case against the right asbestos manufacturer. Also, hiring an experienced mesothelioma lawyer is a must if you want to get the desired verdict and receive financial compensation. A school that fails to follow asbestos regulations may have to pay for the violations. If school administrators deliberately do not address the situation, the penalty can be more severe.
Risk of Asbestos Exposure in Schools
With time, when asbestos-related products wear down, they can risk the lives of students, teachers, and other school staff. Once asbestos fibers are spread in the air, anybody can inhale them, which can cause serious health conditions such as mesothelioma.
According to the US environmental protection agency, products containing asbestos are present in most of the secondary and primary schools in the country. Their analysis also stated a school built before the 1980s would include some asbestos. So, it is important to address this issue for the safety of people who fulfill their duties in school.
Prevention of Asbestos Exposure in Schools
The state and federal governments have established regulations to prevent asbestos exposure. In 1986, AHERA (asbestos hazard emergency response act) was established under the act of toxic substance control. According to AHERA, public and private schools should follow particular guidelines to reduce the risk of asbestos exposure.
As per the guidelines of AHERA, all schools should regularly inspect their buildings to identify asbestos-related materials. These guidelines also stated that schools must have a clear asbestos management plan to deal with these issues.
One of the best parts of AHERA was that it emphasized training the school staff to handle asbestos-containing materials. The purpose of the training was to mitigate the risk of asbestos exposure and to deal with such materials by taking necessary precautions.
Also, AHERA declared that it is safe to use if asbestos products or materials are in good condition. But the relevant school authorities should monitor the condition of their buildings regularly. If there are any signs of damage or deterioration in the building, the school district should take action immediately.
People at Risk of Exposure in Schools
It is important for people working in schools in any position to have the right awareness regarding asbestos exposure. From teachers to students, peons to sweepers, it includes everyone working at school. You never know when exposure will happen, so the school districts should create awareness among their employees to deal with this issue.
Students are more prone to asbestos exposure. Most of the children studying in schools are immature, so they lack the level of understanding which is required to deal with asbestos exposure. Therefore, teachers and other staff must protect themselves and guide students.
Relevant government and school authorities are responsible for taking the right measures to address the issue of asbestos exposure in schools. They should conduct training and awareness programs regularly, so people in the school know how to protect themselves. On the other hand, it is also important for school staff and parents of students to know about their legal rights. It will help them to take a right legal step if they are diagnosed with any health condition due to asbestos exposure on the school premises.