Caledonia – The fieldhouse of Olympia Brown Elementary School is closed temporarily for cleaning as well as asbestos removal, says Stacy Tapp, the spokeswoman representing Racine Unified.
A dist. buildings & grounds worker found some asbestos at the fieldhouse last month while doing some jobs on an air handler. Officials closed the fieldhouse and collected samples of dust and air. The samples passed the standards set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The dust was from the upper-level areas of the fieldhouse which isn’t accessible to the staff members or students, Tapp said. She said the dust also would be cleaned during the asbestos removal project. She is having the fieldhouse cleaned professionally and asbestos removal done. Olympia Brown won’t be using the fieldhouse in the meantime.
Tapp didn’t have any estimate on the expense of cleaning as well as the asbestos removal.
Asbestos is a common presence in structures constructed prior to the 1980s. Olympia Brown was constructed in year 1956 and was renovated in years 1960 and 70, the building documents indicate. Asbestos was abundantly used those days due to its amazing properties such as excellent resistance to fire, heat, corrosion and electricity, good strength, durability etc. Its low cost also made asbestos a favorite material for various industries. However, despite all these good features, asbestos is highly regulated now-a-days as it is a human carcinogen.
Asbestos is composed of numerous invisible fibres. These fibres, if breathed in, can lodge in the lungs of people and make them ill after many years or several decades. Malignant mesothelioma is a fatal cancer caused by the inhalation of microscopic asbestos fibres. Mesothelioma is not the only disease caused by asbestos exposure. The material is also linked to potentially dangerous conditions such as asbestosis, pleural plaques and lung cancer.
Many countries such as Australia have fully banned the use of asbestos. In the United States, asbestos is not banned but its use is highly regulated. Only licensed professionals are allowed to deal with asbestos.
Working with and close to asbestos is the main risk factor for the development of malignant mesothelioma. Though the material is not widely used now-a-days, asbestos is still present in a number of old buildings in the United States. Floor tiles, soundproofing compounds, door gaskets, ceiling tiles, insulations, ironing board covers, fireproof gloves, brake pads, clutches etc. are some products containing asbestos. Those who deal with or work around these products on a regular basis are at the risk of developing deadly conditions such as malignant mesothelioma.