U.S. Senate Report Confirms Students, Teachers, and Staff Remain at Risk of Asbestos Exposure
“Failing the Grade: Asbestos in America’s Schools” Report Spotlights Regulatory Failures
Washington DC – December 7, 2015 – The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), which combines education, advocacy, and community to prevent exposure and ensure justice for asbestos victims, is shocked by the new report confirming students, teachers, and staff remain at risk of asbestos exposure.
“Failing the Grade: Asbestos in America’s Schools” report by U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, (D-MA) spotlights serious failures by the federal government and a vast majority of states to sufficiently protect students, teachers and staff from the looming risks of asbestos present in many of our nation’s schools.
Earlier this year, Sen. Edward Markey, along with Sen. Barbara Boxer, (D-CA), sent letters to the governors of all 50 states asking for detailed information on asbestos in each state’s schools. Each state was asked to answer a series of questions regarding the scope of asbestos in schools, including how each was fulfilling the federal inspection requirements. Under the 1986 federal Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), public school districts and private schools are obligated to regularly inspect buildings for asbestos and adopt suitable measures, including abatement, necessary to protect students, school employees and volunteers.
As the report notes, many states and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are not taking steps to audit or enforce AHERA requirements. State responses suggest that compliance with AHERA is largely left to the school districts and exposes some significant shortfalls, including the absence of federal funds from EPA.
“There are enough challenges facing our children and teachers. Being exposed to deadly and known carcinogens such as asbestos shouldn’t be one of them,” said Linda Reinstein, co-founder and President of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. “The ‘Failing the Grade: Asbestos in America’s Schools’ report should send a signal to parents that asbestos in schools remains a risk. It is completely unacceptable and reprehensible that students, teachers, and staff remain at risk from deadly asbestos exposure. Congress must draft and pass legislation that protects public health, American consumers, and our environment to end the man-made asbestos disaster.”
In response to the investigation, Sen. Markey is advocating for legislation to both strengthen AHERA and to provide greater transparency regarding the location of asbestos in public buildings.
“What you don’t know can hurt you when it comes to asbestos in America’s schools,” said Senator Markey. “We know so little about current asbestos hazards in our schools, and what we do know indicates we have a widespread problem in addressing this toxic threat. Decades of inaction have put students and teachers at risk of asbestos exposure. We need to enact legislation that arms consumers with information about where asbestos can be found so they can avoid exposure, and create a more systemic and dedicated commitment to removing it from schools.”
Senators Markey and Dick Durbin, (D-IL), are original sponsors of S. 700, the Reducing Exposure to Asbestos Database (READ) Act, which would update the Asbestos Information Act of 1988. The proposal would require companies that manufacture, import or handle asbestos to report that information annually to the EPA. They would be obligated to disclose whether any of these products were in publicly accessible locations over the previous year and the reports would be available in a public online database.
Each year, up to 15,000 Americans die from asbestos-related diseases and asbestos imports continue.
About the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization
The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) was founded by asbestos victims and their families in 2004. ADAO is the largest non-profit in the U.S. dedicated to providing asbestos victims and concerned citizens with a united voice through our education, advocacy, and community initiatives. ADAO seeks to raise public awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure, advocate for an asbestos ban, and protect asbestos victims’ civil rights. For more information, visit www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org. ADAO, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, does not make legal referrals.
Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO)