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Ohio High School Students Concerned By Asbestos

Students at one Ohio high school are voicing their concerns about asbestos exposure over social media, but school administrators are providing reassurances. According to Rob Boxler, environmental safety manager for Akron Public Schools, a student posted a photo of a worker at the Ellet High School wearing a green hazardous material suit and mask. Rumors quickly spread and fears mounted that students might be being exposed to asbestos dust fro an area where loose ceiling tiles were being removed, but Boxler provides an explanation.

He says that the tiles being removed had been present in classrooms for years and were being held in place by tile that contains two percent asbestos, a substance that is specifically regulated and closely watched. “It was in the base plaster that the tiles are glued to,” he said. “The big concern is that I didn’t want tiles falling down on students’ heads.” To prevent that fro happening he had ordered that both tiles and their plaster be removed from three specific classrooms in the school. No students were present in any of those rooms at the time of removal and state officials, county officials and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency had all been notified of the activity, and the workers that were taking care of the removal were certified to handle the process.

A teacher in one of the impacted classrooms had noticed on a Tuesday that ceiling tiles had loosened following a recent ice thaw and leak in the 66 year old building, and had notified Boxler of the problem. Clean-up was performed that evening after classes, but when he reviewed the work on Wednesday he noted a few more tiles in another room and plaster on the flopr of a third classroom, so he had the workers come back. That was when the student saw the protective gear and protective tape labeled “Danger Asbestos” and snapped the picture that caused the concern.

Speaking to the issue of asbestos being present in the building, Paul Flesher, Akron Public Schools’ Facilities director said that the leaks and problems are all part of the older buildings’ problems, and “that’s why we’re replacing the building.” He also added that many older buildings have asbestos present and that it is only harmful when it is broken down into a powder. “Asbestos products are still even legal in this country,” he explained. “Asbestos is only considered a health hazard when it is made airborne and you can breathe it. If it’s sitting in a wall, it can’t hurt you.”

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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