The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has warned parents that essentially any public school built before 1981 will have asbestos somewhere within its structure. When people are exposed to slight levels of asbestos, it could eventually develop into harmful or deadly mesothelioma. In light of this information, parents across the country may want to be concerned about their children being exposed to asbestos five days a week.
Why is Asbestos in So Many Schools?
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral compound that is easily manufactured into soft sheets for insulation or woven into other materials. Due to its ease of production and low costs, it was highly popular from the 1940s to the 1970s for all sorts of construction projects. Since the government is always trying to save money, whenever a school would be built, it would use asbestos in the walls and ceilings for insulation.
Is Asbestos Always Dangerous?
To err on the side of caution, it makes sense to say that asbestos is always dangerous. However, technically, it only leads to mesothelioma once it becomes agitated or broken apart. Friable asbestos sheets crumble with slight movement and release microscopic slivers of the substance into the air. If a person breathes these slivers in, they can become lodged in the esophagus, throat, or lungs, eventually causing tumors and cancerous growths. Since the asbestos lining particularly old schools are likely to become brittle just from a natural tremor or strong gust of wind, it is not safe for children.
How You Can Protect Your Child
Protecting your children from asbestos exposure and the risk of mesothelioma starts with vigilance and education. Learn when your child’s school was built and check to see if any repair or modernization projects are scheduled in the future. It is usually during such projects that asbestos becomes disturbed and falls into the air. You also have the right to see the school’s inspection reports; ask for them and review them to see if the school has been inspected and labeled as a high-risk zone due to asbestos.
If your findings are less-than-satisfactory and you believe your child is at risk of asbestos exposure, you may want to consider speaking with the school board about an asbestos management plan. Withdrawing your child from a school where danger is present or imminent is also an option. Lastly, if you believe your child has been exposed to dangerous levels and the school knew about the risks, you may be able to file a lawsuit against them, especially if your child has been diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Contact Kaiser Gornick, LLP and our San Francisco mesothelioma attorneys today if you need legal advocates to help you create, manage, and conclude your case. We have focused much of our personal injury practice on mesothelioma and asbestos exposure claims.