The serious health risks related to asbestos exposure as a potentially lethal substance are something that can’t be overstated. If the material is inhaled, the invisible fibers become lodged in the lungs, resulting in cancer and other health issues. This can happen several years after exposure.
Due to the serious health concerns caused by asbestos, more than 50 countries have banned it. Unfortunately, this ban is not active in the U.S. A group that isn’t often thought of when it comes to asbestos exposure is students and school personnel. However, considering the age of many school buildings across the country, it’s clear that this is (or should be) a serious concern.
The existing regulations in the U.S. to protect people from asbestos exposure
While public awareness of the serious health issues related to asbestos exposure came to light in the 1970s, the proposed ban submitted by the EPA was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Since this occurred, the U.S.’s approach toward asbestos has been preventing its use in new products and buildings.
There have been steps to help manage the presence of asbestos in schools. In 1986, Congress passed AHERA, or the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, which requires all local educational establishments to inspect buildings for any materials containing asbestos. They must also have asbestos management plans and engage in response actions to reduce or prevent asbestos-related hazards.
The issue with this is that the last systematic survey to find asbestos in schools in the U.S. was conducted over 40 years ago by the EPA, and there’s no data (on the federal level) about the conditions of schools. Because of this, many students and school personnel may still be exposed to this material without even realizing it.
Protecting your rights after asbestos exposure
If you worked at a school or were a student in a school where asbestos was found, you may be able to recover compensation. Unfortunately, these cases can be difficult, so it’s best to learn your legal options.