Recently there has been a lot of talk in the news about hazards in our area schools. As this school district works to address these concerns, it’s important to recognize that these hazards are not unique. Schools are often older buildings, built and renovated under long-outdated building codes and standards.
While most schools take these potential hazards very seriously, and work diligently to keep our children safe, it is still important for residents, parents, and staff to be aware of possible issues that may remain out of view or unidentified.
By no means are we intending to make you overly concerned, but we at Disaster Blaster feel that education is incredibly important as it allows everyone involved to make informed decisions. With that in mind, below are some potential hazards that are common in school buildings.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was used in many, many, building materials. Unfortunately, we later learned that the Asbestos fibers, which can be released as these products deteriorate, or are damaged, are extremely hazardous to respiratory health. Asbestos exposure has been shown to cause serious, life threatening, conditions such as Mesothelioma and Asbestosis (among others).
A wide variety of building products contained Asbestos. Some common building materials that are often found in schools, include pipe insulation, floor tile, wall and ceiling surfacing materials, popcorn texture, spray insulation, drop ceiling tiles, and wall board. It’s important to keep in mind that Asbestos materials in good condition, without risk of releasing Asbestos fibers, are not considered a hazard. It’s when the Asbestos material begins to deteriorate or fall apart that it becomes a potential issue. A licensed Asbestos Abatement Contractor is able to survey these concerns and design a plan of action to resolve Asbestos hazards.
Lead is a metal that has been used in building materials since the ancient Egyptians. An easily manipulated metal, it is easy to work with and versatile. Unfortunately, in more recent times, we recognized the hazard to health that lead exposure can represent. Over time, a build-up of lead in your body, can lead to developmental delays, irritability, abdominal pain, neurological changes, and can ultimately be life threatening. If you feel that you or your child has been exposed to lead, it’s important to have them tested as quickly as possible.
The most common areas where lead can be found is in lead-based paint and plumbing pipes and fixtures that may contain lead. While lead paint isn’t used anymore, there’s still a lot of it out there in older buildings. Most commonly, exposure will occur when lead-based paint begins to chip and flake. As lead has a sweet taste, small children are known to pick up these chips and lead dust and put them in their mouths, leading to lead poisoning. Lead in water is most commonly caused by pipes containing lead. When these pipes begin to corrode, this allows lead to leach into the water, contaminating it. While testing for lead-based paint is important as part of an environmental inspection, testing water should be performed annually as lead levels can change.
The second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States (second only to cigarette smoke), Radon is a hazard many people are still unaware of. A naturally occurring radioactive gas, Radon is a result of the breakdown of uranium in the soil. As this gas is created, it seeps up out of the soil and into homes, businesses, and schools through the building’s foundation. An odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas, Radon can then accumulate inside buildings without occupants even knowing. For this reason, regular Radon testing is incredibly important to ensure that buildings are safe.
Resolving Radon issues is done through the installation of a Radon Mitigation System that vents the Radon gas above the roof line. For large buildings such as Schools, Radon Mitigation is often handled through changes to the building’s ventilation system which can bring in clean air to dissipate the buildup of Radon gas inside the building. A licensed Radon Mitigation Contractor is happy to review the needs of the building and determine the best course of action.
About Disaster Blaster
Disaster Blaster is an indoor environmental firm serving the Northeastern PA Area. We have been providing our local area with unparalleled water damage mitigation, basement waterproofing, mold remediation, asbestos abatement, radon mitigation, and fire / smoke restoration services for decades, and are proud to have been named The World’s Greatest Indoor Environmental Firm. For more about Disaster Blaster, as well as more helpful tips, please visit our website at: www.disasterblaster.com or call our office at (570) 963-1123.