The problem of asbestos in schools has popped up again.

According to the Associated Press, officials in an Iowa school district found asbestos at an elementary school. They told parents that their children may have been exposed to dangerous asbestos.

KCRG-TV reported the news first, according to the Associated Press article. The school in question is Prairie Crest Elementary School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. There will be an extended winter break for clean-up and remediation.

Officials with the College Community School District sent a letter to parents last week about the concern. They learned Dec. 22 of the potential exposure.

 

How Asbestos Exposure Happened at the School

According to the Associated Press, the letter sent to parents states “a contractor replacing carpet failed to properly abate asbestos within the carpet glue before removing (the carpet) during construction work.” The contractor work occurred in June, but the asbestos wasn’t detected until December.

Renovation work or construction projects – such as replacing carpet – can disturb any asbestos present. Since asbestos was used for mixtures like glue or siding or floor tiles, it’s often a concern during renovations.

Disturbance causes asbestos, which is quite fragile, to break apart. Loose strands of asbestos can float in the air undetected. People then breathe in the polluted air as asbestos enters the body and wedges into tissue inside the chest or stomach.

 

Number of Students and Teachers at the School

This possibility is the chief danger for the students and staff at Prairie Crest Elementary School, which has 441 students according to U.S. News & World Report. The school serves pre-kindergarten through 4th-grade and has 30 full-time teachers. All of them, plus non-teacher staff, may have been exposed.

According to the Associated Press, the school district’s testing at the end of December showed no asbestos. However, they’ll continue clean-up and abatement efforts to ensure the safety of the school setting.

This type of story isn’t the first in the last few years. Schools are a regular place for “legacy” asbestos exposure, which describes old asbestos resurfacing in long-ago-constructed buildings during renovation projects. Since asbestos isn’t used in new constructions, legacy asbestos exposure is becoming the most common type of exposure to home residents, office workers, school teachers and children, contractors for renovation jobs, and more.

There was an ongoing asbestos issue in Philadelphia public schools. Multiple schools had issues of decaying asbestos in the ceilings of classrooms and other highly trafficked rooms. In another asbestos scandal in Pennsylvania, three people tied to the Scranton School District were charged with child endangerment for hiding the presence of asbestos in the district’s schools.

 

What’s Next for Kids and Teachers Exposed to Asbestos in Schools?

Asbestos can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, ovarian cancer and a type of lung scarring called asbestosis. Mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer affecting 2,500 Americans with diagnoses each year, grows from the lining of the lungs and abdominal cavity.

The issue is mesothelioma isn’t detectable for years after exposure. There’s no way right now to know which kids or staff members are at risk of this cancer.

The most pressing issue is preventing this type of exposure in the future. School officials and contractors should be conscientious of asbestos’ presence in old buildings, including schools. Any renovation work must consider this element before committing harmful disturbance and putting people, including kids, at risk.

    Sources & Author

Devin Goldan image

About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is the content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.

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    Sources & Author

Picture of Devin Golden

About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is the content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.