The internal watchdog responsible for overseeing the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) actions has issued a report indicating that the agency isn’t doing what it should do to protect students and staff in the nation’s educational institutions from exposure to asbestos. This lapse affects approximately 50 million children and about 7 million adults every year.
The report, which was issued by the Office of Inspector General, was an assessment of how well the EPA was complying with the government’s regulations regarding asbestos control. Under the law, the EPA is responsible for making sure that schools are carrying out the appropriate inspections for asbestos, developing plans to control or eliminate asbestos dangers and carrying out those plans.
Generally speaking, the states that are handling their own asbestos inspections are doing a far better job than the federal government. The EPA managed to carry out less than one-fifth of the legally required inspections it was supposed to complete in the four-year period from 2011 to 2015.
In fact, the report indicated that just one regional area of the EPA even had a definite strategy for handling its task. Half of the EPA’s regions only carried out asbestos inspections in response to complaints. Essentially, that means that the agency has no way of knowing whether the millions of children and adults at those schools are at risk or not from asbestos and its related diseases.
Given that asbestos was commonly used in schools that were built anytime between 1946 and 1972, this is a serious concern. Any of that asbestos could be thrown into the air due to remodeling or simple age. The fibers can then easily be breathed in by students and staff — most of whom are unaware that they’re even being exposed.
While the government has pledged proactive measures regarding the issue, many fear that the steps aren’t enough — and at least one proposed new law may even open the door for new ways of using asbestos.
Asbestos exposure can lead to serious long-term health issues, even death. Anyone who believes that they may be suffering due to asbestos exposure in the past is well-advised to seek the advice of an attorney who is an experienced advocate for asbestos-related claims.