Editorial: Awareness needed for asbestos issue

In the past, asbestos was often used in ceiling materials and tiles for the purpose of insulating heat.  That was, until it was discovered that it had the potential to be deadly to humans.  In fact, it was revealed that asbestos is a carcinogen, a substance that could cause cancer.  

Unfortunately, it is an uncomfortable reality that many old buildings deal with problems relating to the prevalence of asbestos in their pipes to this day, and that Schreiber is one of them. 

There are hooks within the fibers of asbestos that make it difficult to leave the lungs once it is inhaled.  This process leads to the very serious disease asbestosis.  Strict regulations have been placed to prohibit the continued use of asbestos in buildings.

If asbestos is encapsulated and not friable or in the air, then it is relatively safe.  However, once it becomes friable and enters the air, it becomes a threat to people’s health. 

There are all sorts of laws regarding the issue of asbestos.  Schreiber works with environmental testing companies to manage these kinds of situations.  These include JC Broderick and Associates, the latter being a company that returns to the school every six months to evaluate the building. 

In addition, Schreiber keeps a book in the main office that is open to the public and contains of all the information on the asbestos present in Schreiber, including the areas where asbestos has been found.  Although it is huge responsibility to remove this controversial substance, the school definitely follows all of the state regulations.

This issue was first realized when a teacher informed the administration of “white particulate matter” that seemed to be coming from a pipe.  Administrators immediately took action as soon as the information reached them, having JC Broderick and Associates assess the air.  

Even though the test came back clear, JC Broderick and Associates had a branch mechanical come in and repair the ceiling where the asbestos fell from.  The room was eventually opened for use because it was not friable.  However, throughout the week, more “white particles” were found in different rooms and the same school proceeded with the same safety procedures. 

Although the school took all the precautions necessary, the asbestos that was used in the original making of the building should have been encapsulated to eliminate this from happening.

In addition, the administration should have alerted the public, including students, teachers, parents, and others in the community about the progress and the findings.  In order to do so, there could have been better communication and updates between the administration and the Schreiber community.  

Both students and faculty were alarmed by the outbreak and lack of knowledge that was provided to them.  If the administration made it clear that the findings and investigations came back clean of asbestos, many people would have been calmer and rumors wouldn’t of have circulated. 

Overall, the school has done a good job of dealing with this most recent issue of asbestos, as they have taken all the necessary actions to ensure no individual is threatened.  However, there are a few modifications to procedure that could be put in place.  The Schreiber Times therefore believes that notifying the public more and assuring them on the safety of the students in the school would help to ensure safety to all students, parents and faculty.