Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material. Asbestos is known as the “mineral of a thousand uses”. Many of its natural properties have proven to be extremely useful as an additive to many construction, industry, automotive, and consumer products. The use of asbestos in the U.S. has been so wide spread that almost all of us have some degree of exposure. Because of the age of our school buildings, we have asbestos containing construction material at all of our campuses.
Congress passed the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) in 1986. The Act required the EPA to develop regulations creating a comprehensive framework for dealing with asbestos in public and private schools.
Asbestos becomes a health hazard when it becomes friable (easily crumbled and reduced to a powder by simple had pressure) and its microscopic fibers go airborne and are inhaled. Long term exposure to asbestos fibers in the lungs can cause asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer.
When the opportunity presents itself, we remove asbestos from our facilities. For example, during 2018 seismic retrofit of our high school, we hired an environmental safety contractor to remove asbestos tile as we replaced worn out carpeting in several classrooms. While we still do have asbestos in some schools, it has been rendered safe via containment and/or encapsulation. We have trained our maintenance manager to manage it safely and proactively.
We maintain an Asbestos Management Plan (AMP) for all sites containing asbestos. A periodic surveillance of asbestos-containing materials is performed in all district buildings that contain asbestos periodically and a complete re-inspection of all buildings is conducted every three years. This is done to ensure that asbestos-containing materials are maintained in good condition and remain safe for the building occupants.
If you have any questions regarding asbestos or the district’s asbestos management program, please contact our district facilities manager at 541-865-3563.