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Report: EPA's school asbestos program often inactive

Despite the danger that asbestos can pose to students, teachers and other workers in Louisville and across the country, a national program to monitor the substance in schools is significantly underfunded. According to a report by the Environmental Protection Agency's inspector general, the school asbestos program is considered to be a low priority. Only one out of the 10 national EPA regions has a strategy to manage the dangers posed by asbestos in schools. Of all inspections conducted between 2011 and 2015, the federal program sponsored only 13 percent while states were responsible for 87 percent of school asbestos inspections.

The program was created 32 years ago to address the risk posed by asbestos exposure in educational buildings. Dangerous exposure could occur even when the presence of asbestos remains undetected inside a school, particularly if it is not properly mitigated or remedied. Asbestos that is located inside walls of older buildings is usually removed only when an inspection notes that school children and staff are at risk of exposure.

According to the report, EPA regions have downscaled their asbestos inspection programs and often only inspect in the case that tips or complaints are filed by the public. The document addressed the performance of the EPA in the last 10 years, and it noted that the agency's guidance for the fiscal year fails to set guidelines for inspection and compliance on asbestos.

Asbestos exposure has led to thousands of painful deaths from mesothelioma cancer as well as serious respiratory issues like asbestosis. While many may consider asbestos to be a problem of the past, it continues to pose a serious threat lurking inside the walls of old buildings. People who have been injured or made ill due to exposure to asbestos may work with a lawyer to seek compensation for their damages, including medical bills and lost wages.

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