Asbestos closes North Iowa elementary school

29 Apr 2008 by under News

Asbestos concerns have forced the relocation of nearly 150 elementary school-age children from North Kossuth Community School in Bancroft, Iowa. An Associated Press report released on MSNBC today says asbestos levels in one classroom were 10 times greater than what is considered safe, and 1,000 times greater in a second-floor hallway at the school. Asbestos has been linked to cancer and other diseases including asbestosis, a severe scarring of the lungs.

The school was closed Monday after testing revealed the high asbestos levels present in the facility. Students will be relocated to a facility in the nearby community of Swea City, with plans to complete this resume classes Thursday. Students have three weeks remaining in the school year.

According to a story on, the district has been concerned about the school since at least May 4, 2007, when Paul Baer of The Institute for Environmental Assessment sent a memo stating that accoustical ceiling spray on the ceiling of the second floor hallway and classrooms contained asbestos. The news story goes on to say that the memo stated that due to roof leaks beginning in 2002, asbestos was beginning to separate from the plaster and would release asbestos fibers into the air if it fell.

On March 18, 2008, the Fairmont Sentinel, a daily paper that serves southern and northern Iowa, reported that concerns were raised at the March 17 school board meeting. North Kossuth Superintendent Mike Landstrum told the Sentinel that an IEA inspector “told me there were some major concerns with health issues.”

Following the meeting, two public hearings were set to address the issue, one on April 7 at Swea City, and one April 14 in Bancroft.

The Sentinel reported that at the Swea City meeting April 7, in a letter to the district, George Rosburg of the IEA stated the water damage, visible leaks and sagging asbestos ceiling spray were “… a serious health & safety concern, and recommends North Kossuth Community Schools consider the asbestos removal and roof repair as a very high priority.”

Until this decision to relocate students, North Kossuth Elementary has been located in space rented from St. John’s Catholic School, a private school located on the same campus. North Kossuth has rented the property since 2002. Because the district leases the building, St. John’s is responsible for maintenance, which would include asbestos removal and other repairs.

North Kossuth’s lease agreement with St. John’s does not expire until 2012.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all public school districts and private schools, known as local education agencies or LEAs, to inspect all school buildings for both friable and nonfriable asbestos; to develop plans to manage asbestos in schools; and to carry out the plans in a timely fashion.

2 Responses to “Asbestos closes North Iowa elementary school”

  1. Bayrak

    do you know any information about this subject in other languages?

  2. Wendi Lewis

    I am not sure if you need information about the Iowa school, or asbestos in general.

    The Asbestos Awareness Disease Organization (ADAO) does have general asbestos awareness information in Spanish and French available on its web site, under Educational Materials. Here is a link to that page:

    I hope this helps!