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Asbestos exposure still a significant risk in Ohio schools

Parents in Ohio typically expect their children's schools to provide safe and healthy environments that foster learning. Sadly, some of that trust might be misguided. Asbestos exposure is a real and ongoing risk to students and staff in schools all across the United States of America.

In 1986, the Asbestos Emergency Response Act was implemented as a means to protect school staff and students from asbestos and its related dangers. However, advocates question just how effective that law has been. While school buildings might receive upgrades in the form of smart boards replacing white boards or new desks, the actual building is often left intact. An official from the Environmental Working Group pointed out that schools built prior to 1981 have a high chance of containing asbestos. Asbestos is often concealed and yet out in the open in these school buildings, located in everything from cement to paint and ceiling to floor tiles.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are still 132,000 schools that are contaminated with asbestos-laden materials. Part of the reason so many schools still contain asbestos is due to the time and money that it typically costs to remove the substance. On already tight budgets, many districts attempt to keep the problem under wraps. An out-of-state school district was recently sued by the federal Department of Labor when it allegedly fired an environmental health engineer as a form of retaliation after she pointed out the need to deal with the asbestos contamination at district schools.

Something as minor as chipped paint or floor tile can release dangerous asbestos fibers and expose untold numbers of students and staff. The wear and tear on older school buildings in Ohio can be especially harmful, especially when there is no confirmed safe level of asbestos exposure. When institutions refuse to take necessary action against asbestos, victims have the right to seek just legal compensation through the civil court system.

Source:, "Is Asbestos Still In Our Schools?", March 7, 2016

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