New York elementary school under investigation for asbestos risk during renovation project

8 Aug 2013 by under Legal, News

Chrysotile microscopic 100x100 New York elementary school under investigation for asbestos risk during renovation projectA website called “Talk of the Sound” is following a developing story in which -containing floor tiles were removed from an elementary school in New Rochelle, N.Y. The website reports samples of floor tiles taken from George M. Davis Elementary school during a renovation project tested positive for asbestos when sent to an independent laboratory. School administrators insist neither students nor staff were exposed to asbestos during the renovation work.

Talk of the Sound initially reported a potential asbestos exposure risk at the school in a blog post published Aug. 1. The New York State Department of Labor Asbestos Control Bureau had been brought in to investigate the situation after it was reported parents, teachers and visitors to the school were not notified of potential exposure.

Confidential sources told Talk of the Sound that employees of George Wood Plumbing who had been contracted by the school to replace flooring in two school offices became concerned when they found what they believed to be asbestos tiles underneath some carpeting due to be replaced. The source says the employees notified John Gallagher, Director of Buildings & Grounds for the City School District of new Rochelle. However, the source tells Talk of the Sound that Mr. Gallagher instructed the workers to proceed with the work, putting them and those around them at risk.

At Mr. Gallagher’s instructions, Talk of the Sound reports, the workers pulled up the tile – possibly releasing asbestos fibers into the air – and discarded it and other debris. The website notes the asbestos-containing tiles were taken away in an open garbage truck and dumped without asbestos control measures into a regular garbage dump.

Asbestos fibers are microscopic and can be easily inhaled. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency () and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have strict regulations for asbestos abatement to protect workers and the public. Exposure to asbestos, even in tiny amounts, has been linked to the development of mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen or, more rarely, the heart. There is no known cure for mesothelioma.

School officials confirmed to the website that students, staff and visitors were in the building during the period of renovations, until noon each day. The website also reports the tiles and other renovation debris was left in the office, hallways, lobby and even stored in a closet for a period of four days before it was completely removed from the school property.

Talk of the Sound reports Gallagher hired an asbestos abatement company to complete the removal of the debris on the weekend of July 20-21, at which time 40 bags of asbestos materials were removed from the school and taken to a processing facility. The website says six of the 40 bags had been improperly stored in a closet since July 16 until their removal.

Tiles tested positive for chrysotile asbestos on Friday, Aug. 2. A robocall and email was sent from Davis School on Monday, Aug. 5, alerting the community to the discovery of asbestos in the tiles, but assuring the public that “Students and staff were not in the vicinity of the office while the removal work was being completed,” and that subsequent air quality tests have shown the air to be safe.

Source: Talk of the Sound /

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