Asbestos and the Risk of Mesothelioma in Schools
If you worked in or attended a school built before 1980, you were probably exposed to asbestos. This naturally occurring mineral fiber was part of many products surrounding students, teachers, maintenance employees, and contractors. When these fibers are liberated and put into the air, anyone in the area can inhale or swallow them. This puts them at risk for a deadly form of asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma.
Asbestos is Common in Schools, and Its Presence is Often Ignored
Asbestos products installed in schools decades ago are still present in many of them. Chicago public school inspection records in 2013 showed that inspectors found damaged asbestos needing repair or removal in more than 600 locations in more than 180 schools, according to the Environmental Working Group.
They also report that teachers, although their risk of dying of mesothelioma is lower than that of construction workers, it’s more than twice that of the general public.
In 2017, the Philadelphia Inquirer asked a group of city school system employees to secretly get surface samples of possible asbestos contamination in 11 schools. Asbestos fibers were widespread. It cited an elementary school gym as an example.
Damaged asbestos pipe insulation was first documented in 2013. Two years later, school administrators were informed of a “gouge, 10 inches high, near ceiling heater fan unit.” Inspectors stated the gym had a “high” degree of “air movement” and “activity,” which can result in sending asbestos fibers airborne. Four years later, the situation still wasn’t addressed.
“In December (2017), the newspapers’ test of an area on the gym floor at Jenks detected 55,500 asbestos fibers per square centimeter. That number is 11 times higher than the amount the EPA established as the minimum asbestos level to qualify for a federally funded cleanup in the wake of the World Trade Center collapse.”
Schools with fewer resources, like public schools in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Kentucky, are less likely to make asbestos removal and remediation a priority.
Those Around Asbestos in Schools May Develop Mesothelioma
After years or decades in the body, asbestos fibers can cause serious health problems, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and different types of another cancer known as mesothelioma:
- Pleural: Affecting the lining of the lungs and chest cavity
- Pericardial: Of the heart’s lining
- Peritoneal: Impacting the membranes covering abdominal organs and the abdominal cavity
If you are diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, Satterley & Kelley can help you and your family receive payment for healthcare costs and compensation for all you’ve endured.
What Causes Asbestos Exposure in Schools
Mesothelioma’s risk goes up as the person’s asbestos exposure increases, though someone with limited exposure can get the condition. Asbestos products performed many functions because of the fibers’ light weight, strength, low cost, and their heat, fire, and electricity resistance.
Its commercial use in the US began with the Industrial Revolution in the early 1900s. Asbestos was part of about 3,000 different products. Its use was sharply curtailed in the late 1970s due to federal government regulation, but it’s still allowed for a limited number of purposes.
Asbestos’ peak use in schools started with the post-World War II building and baby booms. The federal Environmental Protection Agency estimates asbestos is in most of the country’s schools. The most popular products include:
- Insulation on steam pipes, boilers, and air conditioning equipment
- Ceiling and floor tiles
- Acoustical tiles
Fibers are tiny and light. They can remain in the air for many hours if they are released from asbestos-containing material, which can happen when they’re:
Fibers can also be released into the air as the products age and deteriorate.
Satterley & Kelley Helps Those With Mesothelioma
If you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos at a school and later developed mesothelioma, you’ll find its treatment can be costly. Contact your health insurance company to see if your health insurance plan covers it and what it may leave you to pay.
Financial compensation and help to pay for your medical care may be available by making a claim against those involved in the asbestos industry. Arrange a free consultation with an experienced, knowledgeable Satterley & Kelley mesothelioma attorney by calling us toll-free at 855-385-9532 or completing our online contact form.