Summer asbestos removal causes concern for school staff

September 26th, 2006

Summer school renovations at four Clark, N.J. schools have led to concern among staff workers. It isn’t so much the stack of furniture in hallways, the tangles of wiring or even the coat of dust that has settle throughout the buildings. It’s what might be in the dust.

One of the key elements in the renovations is removing asbestos insulation from the boiler rooms and maintenance tunnels at the four schools. Exposure to asbestos has been shown to caused the deadly disease mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, heart, chest and abdomen. Mesothelioma symptoms include shortness of breath, fever, loss of appetite, persistent cough or vomiting. A mesothelioma diagnosis usually leaves patients with an average life expectancy of only one to five years.

While school district officials have stated that worker health concerns are unfounded, some employees have voiced concern over working so close to the asbestos removal. Said one employee, “If teachers were here they would not put up with this. Every support staff member is complaining.” She added that despite complaints to school district officials, their concerns had not been answered.

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