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Students may be at risk from improperly disposed asbestos

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now overseeing the renovation process at a Georgia high school, after parents and nearby residents complained that asbestos was not being properly disposed of, putting students and neighbors at risk of exposure to the deadly fibers.

According to news and witness reports, workers are routinely dumping debris that potentially contains asbestos into a dumpster in the school parking lot. EPA regulations state that dumpsters with dangerous material inside of them must be fenced in so that no one can gain access. But the dumpster, which is next to a school bus drop-off where day camp participants regularly gather, does not have even a warning sign to alert kids and parents of the potential danger within it.

One man who lives near the school says that he regularly sees construction workers throwing floor tiles and other materials into the dumpster. "You can see them just taking shovel-fulls and throwing the debris in top of the dumpster," he told a local news station, "and it's just blowing around." The neighbor alleges that those floor tiles contain asbestos, and that the act of tossing them into the uncovered dumpster is causing asbestos fibers to be released into the air.

According to the school district, internal tests have revealed no danger of asbestos exposure in the construction materials. However, the EPA reportedly plans to continue its investigation into the allegations. If the agency finds any violation of asbestos-removal guidelines, the school district or construction company could face criminal charges, as in our last mesothelioma blog post.

Source: CBS, "Asbestos debris at high school worries parents," Steve Kiggins, June 26, 2012

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