An alarming new report from the Environmental Protection Agency has determined that far too many U.S. students may be coming into contact with asbestos at school. This new information concludes that the EPA only completed a mere 13% of the inspections it was supposed to from 2011-2015. Below is a concise recap of the rest of the Government’s findings, along with what you need to know if you believe your child may be at risk for asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma.
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The Basic Facts of the Report
By declaration of the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) in 1986, the EPA is required to oversee nationwide asbestos inspections in U.S. schools. According to the Office of the Inspector General, states with jurisdiction over their own asbestos regulations completed 87% of the necessary inspections. The new report from the EPA’s internal watchdog indicates that these states performed inspections at 6 times the rate of the federal level. This is particularly alarming for American schools constructed before 1980, which have a greater chance of containing asbestos building materials.
The EPA Failed to Monitor Asbestos Levels at Schools in 29 States
While 6,359 asbestos inspections were completed at American schools during the 2011-2015 period, the EPA only spearheaded 858 of them. Twelve states in the union have AHERA waivers and conduct their own asbestos inspections. Nine states conduct statewide inspections with monitoring from the EPA.
The Remaining 29 States Which Fall Solely Under Federal Jurisdiction Include:
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
What This Means
This is extremely bad news for states like California, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, which have some of the highest rates of mesothelioma and asbestos deaths in the country. In all of these states, a median of just 29 inspections were completed between 2011-2015. The Inspector General’s report also indicates that half of the EPA’s regional districts only look for asbestos if an individual complaint is reported. In the south-central offices, no inspections were conducted from 2012 to 2016. In Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas, just 6 inspections were reported during that timeframe.
How Asbestos in Schools May Affect Your Children
Typically, asbestos-related illnesses manifest in adults 65 years or older, who have been exposed to asbestos in their past. Since these diseases have a latency period of 10 to 50 years, students who are exposed to asbestos may end up dealing with the effects of this exposure literally for decades to come. Additionally, children are more susceptible to asbestos than adults, as they are more active, tend to breathe more through their mouths, and often spend more time on the floor, where asbestos fibers linger. In older schools, asbestos is often detected in vinyl flooring, adhesives, textured paint, steam pipes, and patching compounds found on ceilings and walls.
What Comes Now?
The office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurances has recommended that the EPA implement asbestos planning as a part of the Toxic Substances Control Act, and has encouraged educational agencies around the country to keep up with the Asbestos-Containing Materials in School Rule and develop additional asbestos-related procedures of their own.
What if it’s already too late? If you or your child has been diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure, call Shrader & Associates L.L.P. at (713) 787-3733 or contact us here today. We have helped hundreds of people earn the settlements they deserve, recouping nearly a billion in damages for our clients and their families. We know that finding a law firm who will advocate for you in your fight against mesothelioma is a big decision, but at Shrader & Associates L.L.P. you can count on us to be there for you every step of the way.