Asbestos containing materials were used in many schools constructed before 1980. Asbestos, a naturally occurring fibrous mineral, was once widely used in construction for insulation and fireproofing. Common building materials likely to contain asbestos used in schools are:* Pipe and wall insulation Insulation around boilers and water heaters * Wall paneling * Various plasters, wallboard and joint compounds Floor and ceiling tiles * Roofing shingles and adhesivesAsbestos contains tiny, microscopic fibers that can cause serious illnesses, such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. Asbestos, when contained and in tact, does not pose a health hazard. However when asbestos is disturbed, it can become airborne and be inhaled.
Once inhaled, carcinogenic fibers lodge in the body and cause serious and fatal illnesses.Mesothelioma, a cancer that develops in the lining of the chest, lung or abdominal cavities, is the most serious and fatal ailment linked to exposure to asbestos. Symptoms of mesothelioma can take decades from the first time of exposure to develop, making diagnosis and treatment very challenging.School maintenance and repair workers, are at high risk of contracting mesothelioma anywhere from 10 to 40 years after exposure because of the nature of their work. Drilling into walls, repairing pipes and boilers, renovating and demolition activities all involve disturbing materials likely to contain asbestos.One common example of this type of exposure is occurring at Charles Street School in Palmyra, Philadelphia.
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