New Orleans residents raise concerns about asbestos contamination at local high school

27 Feb 2014 by under News

John McDonough High School Esplanade Avenue New Orleans 100x100 New Orleans residents raise concerns about asbestos contamination at local high schoolNEW ORLEANS, La. – Citizens whose children attend John McDonough High School in New Orleans are raising concerns about the presence of lead paint, mold and possible asbestos contamination at the property, which they say is endangering the health of students, faculty and staff. The school is already slated to close in June to undergo renovations, but area residents say they want students relocated immediately.

Angelina Elder, who attended the school on Esplanade Avenue, and whose daughter also attended there, told WDSU News she believes students should have been relocated years ago. She said she is glad to hear the building is scheduled for and preservation, but concerned that students currently attending the school are spending the majority of their day in a toxic environment.

Asbestos exposure, in particular, is a hazard that can have deadly consequences including , a cancer that affects the lining of the lungs or abdomen. There is no known cure for mesothelioma.

For years, asbestos was used in construction materials for insulation and fire protection. When left intact, asbestos-containing products are not necessarily dangerous; however, when it is broken or otherwise disturbed, it may release microscopic fibers that can be ingested or inhaled. Pictures from inside the school, which was built at the turn of the 20th century, reveal damage including broken ceiling tiles, which could be a potential source of asbestos.

John McDonough High School is among a number of schools that will undergo extensive renovation as part of a $1.8 billion school construction plan for Orleans Parish Schools that was put in place post-Hurricane Katrina. The school is scheduled to be extensively renovated, a process that may take a couple of years.

Dr. Faye Grimsley, an environmental health scientist with Tulane University, told WDSU she is concerned after seeing pictures of the school that show evidence of moisture damage. She has been part of a team conducting asthma studies on children in the area following Hurricane Katrina.

Elder says there is no reason to delay moving the children to another school. She tells WDSU, “The school is their second home. The children should be able to learn in a decent environment.”

Source: WDSU News 6 New Orleans

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