EPA falling short in inspecting schools for asbestos exposure

20 Sep 2018 by under News

EPA logo 100x100 EPA falling short in inspecting schools for asbestos exposureThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is falling short on protecting private and public school children, teachers and staff from the dangers of asbestos exposure, according to a new report by the EPA’s internal watchdog, the Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The report involved an assessment of how well the agency complied with the 1986 Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), an amendment to the Toxic Substances Act (TSCA) that requires schools be inspected for , to have an management plan in place, and to reduce or prevent exposure in the event the cancer-causing mineral is found in a school building.

The EPA was responsible for conducting AHERA compliance inspections for most states, but the report found that the agency conducted far fewer inspections than states charged with conducting their own inspections. From 2011 to 2015, the EPA conducted 13 percent of these inspections, whereas states responsible for their own inspections conducted 87 percent.

“Without compliance inspections, the EPA cannot know whether schools pose an actual risk of asbestos exposure to students and personnel,” the report stated. The OIG recommended that the EPA work with its regional office to step up its compliance with AHERA.

Asbestos is a durable, fire-resistant mineral that was widely used in building materials like insulation and roofing tiles. Its use significantly declined in the 1980s because asbestos exposure can cause serious health risks including lung cancer and , a rare form of cancer that develops in the tissue surrounding the lungs and other internal organs. Asbestos cancer can take decades to develop.

Asbestos can still be found in older buildings, and in many schools across the country. Children, teachers and staff in these buildings are at risk for asbestos exposure when materials containing asbestos are disturbed by construction, demolition, or remodeling.

Source: EcoWatch

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