Wallingford, Connecticut – Up and down the East Coast of the United States, Hurricane Sandy took her toll on all sorts of structures, including schools. Many school buildings have now reopened, but in Wallingford, Connecticut, one high school has been forced to keep its doors closed because of the presence of dangerous asbestos.
According to an account in the Record-Journal, Sheehan High School students will be staying home until the school district can remove damaged asbestos-containing floor tiles on the building’s second floor. The tiles were damaged when water leaked into the school. Damaged asbestos can result in the release of dangerous fibers into the air where they can be inhaled. As such, no one is currently permitted in the building.
“As a result, abatement is being performed by certified contractors and overseen by environmental consultants to ensure that all Environmental Protection Agency and state of Connecticut regulations are followed closely,” said Salvatore Menzo, school superintendent.
Once asbestos removal is complete, Menzo told the media, both analytical and visual testing will be performed to make sure the concentration of fibers in the air is not at a dangerous level. “We want to make sure everything is safe inside,” Menzo said. “We found out after the fact that the tiles were compromised.”
Menzo assured parents and the general public that no students would be inside the building during the actual abatement process.
Sheehan High School was the only school in the Wallingford School District that suffered major storm damage. However, dozens of schools from the Carolinas through New England were damaged when winds in excess of 75 mph and torrential rains pummeled the coast. Any school that was built prior to about 1975 may contain asbestos and the asbestos may have been compromised due to storm damage.
Administration, teachers, and staff from storm-damaged schools should be on the lookout for asbestos products that may have become dangerous. Any suspected problems with asbestos should be reported to school officials immediately in order to avoid exposure to the material. Asbestos exposure can result in development of diseases like asbestosis or malignant mesothelioma, a serious form of cancer.