Asbestos can be found in many schools throughout New Hampshire. Builders frequently used asbestos because it was cheap and highly resistant to fire. It is also highly tensile, meaning it can be stretched and woven into other materials to improve that material’s heat resistance. Throughout its peak use in the 50s, 60s and 70s, schools used asbestos-contaminated concrete, roofing, vinyl and numerous other materials.
Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, is also a deadly carcinogen. When its small fibers are released into the air, people can breathe them in. They then become lodged in the lungs and eventually lead to an increased risk for mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.
When asbestos poses a danger in schools
If these materials are in good repair – meaning they are not crumbly or risk having asbestos dust in the air, then asbestos does not pose much of a danger. However, loose asbestos is incredibly dangerous. It can be difficult to spot asbestos, since it was woven into so many materials and is invisible to the naked eye.
The only sure way to know if asbestos is a current hazard is to test for it.
Environmental Protection Agency grant will look at asbestos risk
The EPA is giving New Hampshire $140,000 to help analyze the risk asbestos contamination poses in schools. New Hampshire Public Radio, the New Hampshire Asbestos in Schools Program will use the fund to ensure that schools provide outreach to concerned parents and communities and comply with the requirements of the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act plan. AHERA is a federal law that requires schools to reduce asbestos hazards. The EPA also has a model plan for states regarding asbestos inspection and abatement.