Lab testing reveals asbestos fibers in elementary classroom

18 Jun 2018 by under News

Anthophyllite asbestos SEM 1 100x100 Lab testing reveals asbestos fibers in elementary classroomMaria Greco was relieved to hear that the School District of Philadelphia had hired painters to repair the chipping paint and plaster in her classroom at A.S. Jenks Elementary School. But when she arrived back in her classroom the day after the painters were there, she found a layer of white dust covering the desks and floor. Peeling paint remained in the closet where students hung their coats. There was a five-foot gouge cut into the tile on the classroom floor.

Laboratory testing by The Inquirer revealed asbestos fibers and hazardous levels of dust inside Greco’s classroom. Greco repeatedly asked school officials to remove the asbestos fibers and lead dust from the room, but nothing was ever done.

Councilman Mark Squilla got involved when he was contacted by a parent of a student in Greco’s class. He emailed the superintendent who directed him to the district’s chief operating officer. Two days later, Squall was told that repairs were made to damaged pipe insulation and air sampling had been done in the classroom. Yet, Greco’s classroom looked the same.

The Inquirer had the room retested by iATL, International Asbestos Testing Laboratories. The results showed the dangerous asbestos fibers and lead paint still remained in the classroom, posing serious risks to anyone who entered.

Asbestos is a mineral made up of tiny fibers that can become airborne and be easily inhaled. This can lead to serious health conditions including , a rare and deadly cancer of the lining of internal organs, particularly the lungs. It can take years to several decades for the asbestos exposure to result in . The disease typically kills within 12 to 24 months after diagnosis.

There are more than 3,000 products that contain asbestos. Because it is a great insulator, it is used in many building materials including fire and heat insulation, and floor and ceiling tiles. Buildings built before the 1980s most likely contain asbestos in sprayed-on ceiling insulation, pipe and boiler insulation, duct insulation, and floor and ceiling tile, according to CPWR, the Center for Construction Research and Training.

Asbestos fibers are very light and can float in the air for as long as 48 to 72 hours. In a room with air currents, these fibers can remain in the air for much longer. When asbestos fibers are in the air, they can be breathed in with dire consequences.

The Inquirer

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