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Pittsburgh Schools Face Asbestos Challenge

A school district in Pittsburgh is facing tough questions from parents as they consider an asbestos remediation project for two elementary schools. The Moon Area School District is determined to remove asbestos-containing floor tiles from their schools, but a plan to do so during the upcoming spring break is meeting resistance from worried families concerned about the risk of asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma.

The district plans $26.2 million in improvements to the Allard and Brooks elementary schools. In addition to the removal and replacement of the flooring, further asbestos abatement work involving insulation and the schools’ boiler rooms and windows is scheduled to be done during the summer. Many parents would prefer that the flooring is done at that time as well, allowing more time for cleanup and less potential exposure to asbestos fibers to the children. Meetings were held this week to address parents concerns.

The schools’ spring breaks are planned for March 28th through April 5th, and the current plan is for the removal to begin on March 27th and be completed on April 2nd. This will provide time for monitoring and quality control, as well as for installation of new flooring and returning classroom furniture to its proper place. Because the floor tiling is considered “non-friable”, the professionals involved believe that it presents little risk. They also point out that there will be numerous testing and cleaning processes involved. Though this is reassuring to some parents, others feel that the school is putting itself in an untenable situation in case something goes wrong or there is some kind of delay, and putting children at risk in the process.

Though two school directors, Jerry Testa and Michael Hauser, are both in favor of delaying the project until summer, the firm that is responsible for monitoring the contractors who will be completing the project pointed out that it will likely cost less to have the work completed during spring break, when firms are not as busy and may do the job for less money. Joe Kuchnicki is principal contractor with PSI, and though he says that he would prefer to do the work when students are not present, he also points out that other schools have successfully completed asbestos abatement projects while students are in the building by closing off sections from use, or by doing the work on weekends.

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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