October 06, 2011

Schools Learn Some Hard Lessons   
Healthy School News Fall 2011 Issue (PDF) (8 pp. 1.4MB)

Over the past few months, EPA has found a number of cases of asbestos contamination in schools in Region 10. In one instance, school personnel removed ceiling tiles as part of a school project and inadvertently disturbed asbestos-containing dust. In another case, contractors hired by the school district removed asbestos floor tile without first identifying it as asbestos-containing material. EPA has also learned of volunteers who are being asked to sand and paint portions of their schools without proper safety precautions and training.

Schools need to carefully consider repair and maintenance projects for school buildings to avoid potentially harmful exposures. Some approaches schools should use include:

1. Know The Age of Your Buildings– Both lead and asbestos were used extensively in building products sold prior to 1978.

2. Get Professional Help if Pre-1978 – If you allow any untrained person to disturb pre-1978 building materials, there is a good chance you are exposing that person to both asbestos and lead and are doing something illegal.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions about Building Materials – There is no way for you to determine whether there is lead or asbestos in a building product by visual inspection. Specialized equipment and trained personnel are required.

To learn more about the EPA’s lead & asbestos programs, go to http://www.epa.gov/lead or http://www.epa.gov/asbestos. Or contact Regional Lead Coordinator, Barbara Ross at ross.barbara@epa.gov or Regional Asbestos Coordinator, Maria Tartaglia at tartaglia.maria@epa.gov.

Do you want a free test of your school’s artificial turf for lead? Contact Matt at turf@ceh.org or (510) 655-3900, ext. 318.