Children and Asbestos: Facts All Parents Should Be Aware Of

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

When we send our children off to school, we expect and hope that they’ll remain safe throughout the day. When we buy our children toys, we also expect a certain standard of safety from the manufacturers, and when our children drink from public water fountains, most us don’t expect any harm to come from it. Yet, schools, toys, and water fountains have all been associated with asbestos use. Asbestos, a naturally-occurring mineral that was once used in products, buildings, and appliances for its heat and fire-resistance, has been linked to dangerous diseases such as pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Although most schools, toys, and water fountains are safe, it’s important to understand about the dangers of asbestos and how to keep children protected.

Asbestos in Schools

Thousands upon thousands of public and private schools that were built prior to the early 1980s were constructed with asbestos-containing materials. If your child’s school was built after this time period, then it probably doesn’t contain asbestos. However, there are still millions of children that go to school each day in buildings that are littered with asbestos. As long as the asbestos is not disturbed in any way, these schools are usually safe. Yet, in order to promote the highest standards of safety, the Asbestos Hazards Emergency Response Act (AHERA) was created, which mandates that any school that contains asbestos must follow strict regulations to ensure staff, students, parents, and visitors are as safe as possible.

As a parent, you have the right to make sure that your school is following the AHERA guidelines at all times. For example, schools must be inspected regularly for asbestos disruption, and a management plan must always be in place that details plans that will be taken in case of asbestos disruption. In addition, parents must always be notified of these plans as well as any activity that caused asbestos to stir. A qualified asbestos must also be on hand when inspections occur, and immediate action must be taken if disrupted asbestos is detected.

Asbestos in Water Fountains

Although rare, children can ingest asbestos fibers by simply drinking from a water fountain. The EPA has strict regulations on the quality of water, yet the asbestos typically does not come the water source. If an older pipe that was sprayed with asbestos becomes corroded, there is a chance that asbestos will become disturbed, resulting in the fibers breaking loose and mixing in with the water. Since there is no way to detect asbestos fibers, children can easily drink them without having any idea. The best course of action is to always pack bottled water for your children and discourage them from drinking from public water fountains.

Asbestos in Toys

Unfortunately, even though the EPA banned asbestos use in the majority of products and at job sites, there are still some products that contain asbestos, and a few children's toys have been linked to it. In 2007, several parts of a popular CSI Investigation toy kit contained asbestos, including plastic tools, glow-in-the-dark powder, and ink. The amount of asbestos in the kits were so high that they were recalled indefinitely.

Crayons and certain clays were also found to contain asbestos, including Rose Art and Crayola. Although some manufacturers claim that the asbestos found in these products only contained the “acceptable” amount of asbestos as regulated by the EPA, several physicians state that there are no acceptable levels of asbestos exposure and therefore no toys should ever contain even a slight amount. Fortunately, both companies listened, and began making products without any trace of asbestos.

Additional Information on Asbestos

Unfortunately, asbestos use has been linked to all sorts of occupations as well. Plumbers, welders, military personnel, mechanics, construction workers, engineers, and more were exposed to asbestos by the millions before regulations. This led to a plethora of lawsuits and mesothelioma trust funds being set up to cover future cases. If you feel your child or a loved one who worked in an industry may have been exposed to asbestos, it’s crucial to get regular medical checkups. Additionally, you also may be entitled to compensatory damages. For more information on your legal rights, visit the Mesothelioma Lawyer Center

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