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Asbestos Concerns During Renovations for a Healthy School Environment

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Why It's Important

  • Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that's toxic and a known carcinogen. It has been widely used in construction materials, such as roofing and siding shingles, pipe and boiler insulation, and floor and ceiling tiles. General information about asbestos.
  • Intact, undisturbed asbestos-containing materials (ACM) generally do not pose a health risk. ACM are a problem when they deteriorate or are disturbed (e.g., during renovation) and asbestos fibers get in the air and are inhaled by building occupants.
  • Three specific diseases – asbestosis, lung cancer, and another cancer known as mesothelioma – have been linked to asbestos exposure. 

What You Can Do

  • Removal of ACM is not usually necessary unless the material is severely damaged or will be disturbed by a demolition or renovation project. EPA's asbestos program for schools (AHERA) takes an "in-place" management approach that teaches people to recognize ACM and actively manage them. 
  • AHERA regulations require public school districts and nonprofit schools to:
    • Perform an inspection for ACM and re-inspect every three years;
    • Develop, maintain and update an asbestos management plan and provide yearly notification to parents, teachers and staff on the plan and any actions taken or planned in the school; and
    • Train custodial staff on asbestos awareness.
  • EPA's Asbestos in School Buildings provides basic information on asbestos and its impact on health, fact sheets and Q&As, guidance manuals and links to additional resources.

Resources

EPA and Federal Partners

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National Organizations

  • Asbestos in Schools: Resource List by the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities offers an annotated list of links, books and journal articles on how asbestos abatement and management is conducted in school and university facilities, and how schools may comply with federal regulations.

State and Local Entities

  • Asbestos in Schools on the Connecticut Department of Public Health reviews facility requirements, links to regulations and offers newsletters and resources for schools to manage asbestos.