Is Your Child Exposed to Asbestos at School?

While there have been strides in asbestos education over the last several decades, and some changes have been made in how asbestos is used, there are still way too many schools that have asbestos in various forms in their buildings. Asbestos exposure can lead to the development of terminal illness, including mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma, the most common disease caused by asbestos exposure, is incurable and may take up to forty years to even produce any symptoms. That means children exposed to asbestos until they’re in their 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s.

When asbestos is inhaled in the form of microscopic fibers, it travels to the lungs where it gets lodged in the mesothelial tissue. Our bodies fight to get rid of these fibers as they’re too large to be absorbed into the blood stream and too small to be removed through coughing. Over time, the asbestos causes tears in the tissue surrounding the lungs and can mutate the DNA of the surrounding cells. The mutated cells cause cells in the lining of the pleura to multiply uncontrollably leading to malignant tumors.


According to, “Much of the United States’ highly used 20th century infrastructure was fraught with asbestos, and our schools are no exception.” Schools built prior to 1980 are likely to contain asbestos, and because approximately 50% of schools in the United States were built between the 1950’s and 1970’s, there are a significant number of public school in the United States that contain some form of asbestos.

The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act of 1986 (AHERA) requires public school districts and non-profit schools (charter schools and schools affiliated with religious institutions) to inspect buildings for asbestos-containing materials. AHERA also requires schools to prepare management plans and take action to prevent or reduce asbestos hazards in schools. Since the enactment of AHERA, schools in the United States must comply with the following asbestos regulations:

  • After preliminary inspection, schools must perform follow-up inspections on asbestos-containing materials every three years.
  • Schools must create an asbestos management plan, maintain and update it, and keep a copy in the school.
  • Schools must notify parent, teacher, and employee organizations that the asbestos management plan is available for their review on an annual basis.
  • Schools must also inform parent, teacher, and employee organizations of any upcoming actions related to asbestos.
  • Schools must name a point of contact—a person who can ensure that the responsibilities of the school in regard to asbestos are properly implemented.
  • Schools must conduct regular surveillance of any known or suspected asbestos-containing building materials.
  • Schools must ensure inspections and action plans related to asbestos are carried out by qualified professionals.
  • Schools must provide their custodial staff with asbestos training.

The EPA and Asbestos in Schools

Even though asbestos is not yet fully banned in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency has played a huge role in limiting asbestos exposure over the years. That’s the good news. The bad news is what was found in a report published by an EPA internal watchdog group: the EPA only performed 13% of all required school asbestos inspections from 2011 to 2015.

The report, released by the Office of the General Inspector in September 2018, shows that states regulating their own levels of asbestos outperformed the federal asbestos inspections six fold. There are 29 states, however, that depend solely on federal inspections and action plans to keep their kids safe from the dangers of asbestos. What’s unnerving about the fact that 29 states rely on federal inspections is that while we hope all construction and remodeling jobs were performed with proper safety precautions to limit asbestos exposure, there’s no way to really know that for sure.

If you or someone you love has been exposed to asbestos, talk to a qualified attorney in your area.

Lynn Fugaro About Lynn Fugaro

Lynn has been writing web content since 2007 after a lengthy career as a middle school English teacher and administrator. Writing web content seemed a natural progression following a career teaching adolescents about the beauty and the power of the written word, and she quickly got hooked on the challenge of writing SEO- and reader-friendly content that could be found on Page 1 of Google and other search engines.

Having written content for physicians and attorneys for the first few years of her writing career, Lynn has most recently produced original, informative, entertaining, and relevant content for the entertainment industry, the automotive industry, senior communities, pet rescues and numerous other businesses hoping to increase website traffic and page views for all clients looking for informative, vibrant content.