Scope on Safety: All about asbestosby: Ken Roy

Journal ArticleDigital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.

Asbestos has been used in the construction of elementary, middle, and high school ceilings, floor tile adhesives, pipe and structural beam insulations, science laboratory benches, wire gauss on ring stands, fume hood panels, general insulation, and more during the 1950s through early 1970s. This article will raise your level of awareness to the dangers of asbestos exposure, and describes a series of legislative initiatives developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to this potential crisis.

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Reviews (3)
  • on Tue Mar 11, 2014 3:59 PM

I added article to my library because my brother would kill me if it wasn’t included. He works in a lab where he tests various schools and other buildings for asbestos or lead or other hazardous materials. Many of our schools are older buildings and many of them have asbestos. As the article states, we have to know where to look to find it, and we also have to handle it with care. There are many health risks to having asbestos in our homes and schools. This article can be used to lead into discussions about health and other illnesses. We can also use this article to begin discussing healthier and greener options when construction new buildings.

Hazel R
Hazel R

  • on Fri May 11, 2012 12:36 PM

For school building older than 1975 building materials contained asbestos used for insulation. Over time these materials dried and flaked resulting in the following statistic: More than 8,500 schools had friable asbestos. In the years since this material has been banned for use in public buildings, contractors and school districts were required to remove these dangerous materials from their buildings. In 1986 the Asbes¬tos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) became law. This legislation requires public and private nonprofit schools to inspect their buildings for asbestos-contain¬ing building materials. The EPA devised a plan to remove asbestos. Some districts did this during the summer when personnel were not around. Some districts renovated while school was in session. This article describes the changes and the health problems associated with asbestos inhaled into the lungs. Yes, it is probably still out there but reading this article will help the reader understand and act on the issue.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Thu Jul 21, 2011 12:29 AM

Do you have an “old bag” of vermiculite potting soil stored in your science lab closet? Did you inherit a lab with older wire mesh pads? As a result of reading this journal article, science teachers will be made aware of the science lab areas to check in order to make sure their classrooms are free of asbestos particles. For teachers working in schools built prior to 1973, this menacing substance that floats unseen may be in the air they and their students breathe. In 1973, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the use of spray-on asbestos materials, and, in 1980, the EPA determined that thousands of schools were still harboring unsafe particulate levels of the material. The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) become law in 1986. This article informs us of how to determine if one’s school is still in need of asbestos removal measures. It also explains why it is a threat to the health of exposed individuals. The Online resource provides quick access to the EPA website and information about asbestos. This article serves as an excellent reminder of why it is important to be aware of potential health hazards in the science classroom, and why teachers should NOT keep older equipment and materials in the classroom when these items could pose health risks. Besides, it’s the law!

Carolyn M  (Buffalo Grove, IL)
Carolyn M (Buffalo Grove, IL)

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