The risk of asbestos cancer exposure in schools is of great concern to U.S. public health officials. Thousands of elementary schools, middle schools, junior and senior high schools, technical schools, and college and university buildings were built in America during the 1950s through the 1970s with materials that contained asbestos, a carcinogenic mineral that has caused an epidemic of respiratory diseases like mesothelioma cancer . Unfortunately, the risk of asbestos cancer exposure in schools has not yet been eliminated, despite federal and state governments’ efforts to eradicate the presence of this toxin in schools.

Asbestos in School Building Materials

A particularly widespread risk of asbestos exposure in our schools is the use of sprayed-on asbestos for the ceilings of classrooms. Asbestos has fire-resistant properties, and its use also adds some acoustic control. It is also easy to manipulate for a decorative ceiling.

In the 1950s and 1960s, countless school classrooms were constructed with ceilings that contained asbestos. The plumbing, pipes, structural beams and boilers of many schools also contained asbestos as an insulating material. Even the wall insulation and other interior and exterior building materials of the schools may have contained asbestos — a danger which has yet to be removed.

Aging Schools Increase Asbestos Cancer Risks 

As these schools have aged, now 30 to 50 years old, the risk of asbestos cancer exposure in the schools has become greater and greater. The dried spray-on asbestos in the classroom ceilings has often become “friable,” a term which describes the state in which a material crumbles or flakes. Friable asbestos in a ceiling flakes off as a fine dust that can both settle on surfaces and remain suspended in the air for hours or days.

Breathing in the Asbestos Fibers

The fibers of asbestos are not visible to the naked eye, and they are not detectable without testing equipment. When children or adults are in a classroom with such disrupted asbestos, especially day after day, they may well inhale the asbestos fibers, which lodge themselves in the lungs and/or other internal organs, setting stage for eventual disease.

Asbestos exposure in schools presents the same risks that it does in the workplace or at home: several forms of lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma, a devastating cancer with no known cure. It is unconscionable that asbestos manufacturers were allowing their products to be used to build schools when the makers were aware of the risk of asbestos exposure in school populations.

Concerned about the Risk of Asbestos Cancer in Schools?

Let us answer your questions. Contact mesothelioma treatment centers today to learn more about the risk of asbestos cancer exposure in schools and the options and resources available to you.

Asbestos in Schools (english) / Asbesto en Escuelas (spanish)