There are always a lot of questions surrounding health hazards in schools when there are asbestos-containing building materials present. Here are a few facts that the Department of Labor Standards shares with concerned building occupants:
- Yes, there is still asbestos in many schools across the country and in Massachusetts. However, when managed appropriately, the risk to building occupants is minimized.
- In accordance with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Asbestos-Containing Materials in Schools Rule, 40 CFR 763.80 through 763.99 (commonly referred to as AHERA, and implemented in 1987), schools have certain requirements. Such as:
o Designate a contact person.
o Inspect and identify asbestos-containing materials (ACM) in their buildings.
o Prepare management plans and take action to prevent or reduce asbestos hazards.
o Train custodians and maintenance personnel.
o Maintain records pertaining to inspections, periodic surveillance, training, notifications, etc.
o Provide information of the location of ACM or presumed ACM to outside contractors who may come in contact with the material.
- AHERA is designed to allow schools to maintain and manage their ACM in place. Removal of these materials is not usually necessary unless the material is severely damaged or will be disturbed by a building demolition or renovation project.
- No, being in an environment with asbestos-containing materials does not mean you will automatically be exposed to health hazards associated with inhaling asbestos fibers.
o Because of its unique properties, asbestos was widely used in a variety of materials – wallboard and joint compound, floor tiles, boiler and pipe insulation, fireproofing and surface coatings, to name a few.
o Asbestos-containing materials do not pose a health hazard as long as the asbestos-containing materials are managed and maintained in good condition.
The Department of Labor Standards has released new documents to support schools, designated persons, and consultants in their efforts to manage asbestos containing materials. You can find them on our website at www.mass.gov/dols/AHERA
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