Asbestos Floor Tiles Close Schools in St. Louis Park, Minnesota

Schools in St. Louis Park Reopen After Asbestos Scare

St Louis Park, MN - February 17, 2011 - After a two-day closure due to concerns over a possible hazard involving asbestos floor tiles, St. Louis Park High School and Junior High reopened yesterday in Minnesota. The potential hazard to student and staff health came to light when members of the high school's staff reported dust on the floor outside the school nurse's office the week before. The Institute for Environmental Assessment (IEA) was brought in to begin testing for asbestos on Saturday, February 17, 2011, and Monday the tests came back positive.

During the testing and handling of the asbestos floor tile, the IEA crew wore full protective gear. However Dan Locher, supervisor of the asbestos and lead unit at the Minnesota Department of Health said, "For any parent with kids there, they should not be concerned. Most likely they weren't getting exposed to asbestos."

Mr. Locher also stated that the asbestos floor tiles used in schools contained a "low level" of asbestos, approximately 10 percent, posing no risk to the students as long as something like the protective wax layer St. Louis Park High School uses contains it. According to Sara Thompson, a school district spokeswoman, salt and sand brought in on the students' shoes this winter may have caused the wax layer protecting the floor to become worn down, exposing the asbestos-containing floor tile and adhesive, which in turn may have released asbestos fibers. According to the United States Code Title 20, Chapter 49, Section 3601, Education Code, "there is no safe level of asbestos."

The St. Louis Park High School and Junior High may not be the only schools in Minissota to still have asbestos floor tiles. In the 1960s, asbestos floor tiles were widely used in schools for their ability to withstand the constant wear and tear of student foot traffic. In the 1970s when the link between exposure to asbestos fibers and diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancerand asbestosis became clearly established, the use of asbestos floor tiles in schools was discontinued.

For more information on asbestos concerns in the St. Louis Park public schools, please see the district's statement.

For more information on asbestos in schools, please see Asbestos in Schools.