As schools throughout the country age, the need to address the issue of asbestos removal comes to the forefront of school budgets. In Abilene, Texas, the local school district believes they’ll need to spend in excess of a million dollars to take care of the asbestos problem on four school campuses.
According to a story aired on KTXS News, the district is contemplating the use of a million dollar bond as well as money from the sale of district property to assure that no teacher, staff member, or student in their district is ever exposed to dangerous asbestos. While district officials profess to having the material under control, the fact remains that Abilene and Cooper High Schools as well as Madison and Mann Middle Schools are filled with construction products that contain the mineral, including insulation and other items. Luckily, most of it is hidden under layers of paint and other materials, keeping it intact. But that might not always be the case.
“We track it, we know where it is and every year we go on we have less and less of it in the district to track,” said Joe Humphrey, who coordinates construction projects for Abilene Independent School District. Nonetheless, the cost of asbestos abatement continues to be staggering as it can be a long and tedious process, carried out only by licensed professionals who are experienced in properly handling asbestos.
Many school buildings in the U.S. built between the 1920s and 1980 contain asbestos materials. As they age, the material becomes friable and asbestos exposure is more likely. According to federal EPA laws, schools must have an asbestos management plan in place and custodial staff must be trained in handling asbestos-related emergencies as they arise. Airborne asbestos can be inhaled and eventually cause mesothelioma cancer or other similar lung diseases.