Parents and teachers frustrated by lack of information from authorities
Three schools in Huntington Beach have been closed following construction work which might have led to asbestos exposure, according to CBS Los Angeles. Tests at the schools confirmed that asbestos was detected in a number of classrooms. The school board is now scrambling to find places for more than 1,700 students and teachers who worked and studied at the schools. Parents and teachers have also said that they are frustrated about a lack of information given by authorities and want to know whether they or their children may have been exposed to potential health risks at the schools.
Asbestos fiber found
The incident began when authorities found asbestos fibers at one of the schools during a wipe test. Tests also confirmed that asbestos fibers were detected in two classrooms at another school, which has now also been closed. Construction, which can cause in-place asbestos to break lose and become airborne, had occurred at the closed schools.
According to the Los Angeles Times, authorities will be testing for asbestos fibers at 11 schools where construction also took place. The district has said it will suspend construction until the summer holidays. Meanwhile, the three schools will remain closed until the asbestos fiber contamination has been removed from the facilities, a process that could take months to complete.
Parents, teachers concerned
According to Cal/OSHA, the U.S. EPA, AHERA (Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act), and essentially every U.S. and global agency concerned with asbestos hazards, there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. Teachers and parents say they have not been given enough information about the situation. In particular, the teachers say they should have been notified about the presence of asbestos at the schools but were not. Cal/OSHA are also investigating whether asbestos was being removed by construction workers while children were inside classrooms, a process that would have been in violation of AHERA and other California state laws.
Asbestos was used most extensively in the United States from the 1920s to the 1980s. In buildings and schools, it was included in most floor, ceiling, wall, and roof materials, as well in insulation for high temperature piping lines used for heating. Since the very early 1900s it was known by medicine, science, government, and industry that asbestos is hazardous to human health. Especially concerning for school children, asbestos related disease such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, other cancers, and asbestosis take decades to develop, and the more early the exposure the greater the risk.
Asbestos exposure is very serious and it is understandable that the parents and teachers in the above story are so concerned. Injuries associated with asbestos exposure are severe and long lasting, and usually fatal.
People, especially children, should feel safe in the places where they work and study, but all too often asbestos can make many buildings dangerous areas. Anybody who may have been exposed to asbestos should contact a qualified personal injury or wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Because health problems related to asbestos exposure typically result in costly medical bills and lost income, it is important for victims to have somebody who will fight on their behalf for any compensation they may be due.