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Environmental Health Issues

Asbestos

Asbestos Management Program (AHERA Compliance) In order to protect the health of Seattle Public School students, staff and the general public, all asbestos containing materials are carefully managed in accordance with the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA). Since the passage of AHERA in 1988 the District has had an asbestos management program that includes routine inspections and remediation of asbestos-containing materials. Detailed information regarding asbestos-containing materials at District buildings is maintained in the Asbestos Management Plan. The Asbestos Management Plan is available for review in the main office of each school site as well as the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence (2445 3rd Avenue South).

Annual Asbestos Notification 2022-2023

In accordance with the Federal Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), the Seattle Public Schools notifies parents, teachers, and other employees each year of the availability of the Asbestos Management Plan and actions the District is taking to maintain asbestos containing materials in its buildings.

The District conducted an initial inspection of all school buildings for the purpose of identifying asbestos-containing building material in 1988 and a management plan detailing the findings of the inspection was developed for each building.  Since then, appropriate actions have been taken to ensure that asbestos containing materials are removed, repaired, encapsulated, or enclosed as necessary.  

A periodic surveillance of asbestos-containing materials is conducted every six months and a complete reinspection of each school building is conducted every three years.

The Asbestos Management Plan includes the results of each periodic surveillance and the most recent reinspection as well as documentation of asbestos related activities.  The Asbestos Management Plan is maintained and available for review in the administrative office of each school or at the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence located at 2445 3rd Ave South.  

If you would like additional information regarding the District’s Asbestos Program contact Troy White at 206-252-0528 or twhite@seattleschools.org.

Frequently Asked Questions about Asbestos in Schools

Frequently Asked Questions about Asbestos in Schools – EPA

What is asbestos?
Asbestos is the name given to a number of naturally occurring fibrous minerals that are mined for their useful properties such as thermal insulation, chemical and thermal stability, and high tensile strength.

What are the health effects of asbestos exposure?
Asbestos exposure can lead to diseases such as lung cancer, asbestosis (lung scarring), and mesothelioma (cancer of the lung cavity lining). There is a long latency period for these diseases. It could be 30 years after exposure before symptoms of disease begin.

Is there asbestos in my child’s school?
It is very possible that there is asbestos in you child’s school. Asbestos can be found in various places within schools. Friable asbestos, or asbestos that can be broken by hand pressure, is of greatest concern because these fibers can most easily be released into the air and inhaled into the lungs.

Is it dangerous to have asbestos containing material in my school?
Not necessarily. Undamaged asbestos that is properly managed in place poses little health risk to students or teachers. However, it is important that the proper school designated authorities regularly inspect asbestos containing materials to ensure they remain intact. Asbestos can pose a hazard to students, teachers, and school employees when it is disturbed and becomes airborne and therefore breathable. It has been EPA’s long-standing policy that undamaged non-friable asbestos is best left undisturbed and managed in place. Removing asbestos often has the potential to create a greater health risk than leaving it undisturbed.

I thought asbestos was banned and then removed from schools years ago?
Asbestos products, with few exceptions, are not currently banned in the United States and are still “managed-in-place” in thousands of schools nationwide under requirements set forth by the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA). It is possible that asbestos containing materials were completely removed from your school. It is, however, more likely that asbestos is currently managed in place within your school.

If my children have been in a building with asbestos, do they need to see a physician? If I taught in a building with asbestos, do I need to see a physician?
Not necessarily. Asbestos does not pose a health risk if it is managed properly. However, if you feel you may have been exposed to asbestos fibers in the air, you should consult with a physician that specializes in lung disorders or occupational exposures.

Is the school district required to do anything about asbestos in schools?
Yes. AHERA, or the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, was passed by Congress in 1986. AHERA requires public school districts and non-profit private schools to inspect their schools for asbestos containing building material and prepare management plans which recommend the best way to reduce the hazard from any asbestos that may be present. Options include repairing damaged asbestos containing material, spraying it with sealants, enclosing it, removing it, or keeping it in good condition so that it does not release fibers. The plans must be developed by accredited management planners and approved by the State. The school authority must notify parent, teacher and employer organizations of the plans, and then the plans must be implemented. The school district must also perform periodic surveillance of asbestos containing material every 6 months in its schools. AHERA also requires accreditation of abatement designers, contractor supervisors and workers, building inspectors, and school management plan writers.

What is an asbestos management plan?
An asbestos management plan is required to provide documentation of the recommended asbestos response actions, the location of asbestos within the school, and any action taken to repair or remove the material. The school authority must maintain records to be included in the Asbestos Management Plan.

These records include among other things:

  • List of the name and address of each school building and whether the building has asbestos containing building material, and what type of asbestos-containing material. Date of the original school inspection.
  • The plan for re-inspections.
  • A blueprint that clearly identifies the location of asbestos-containing building material that remains in the school.
  • A description of any response action or preventive measures taken to reduce asbestos exposure.
  • A copy of the analysis of any building material, and the name and address of any laboratory that sampled the material.
  • The name, address, and telephone number of the “designated person” to ensure the duties of the local education agency (LEA) are carried out.
  • A description of steps taken to inform workers, teachers, and students or their legal guardians about inspections, re-inspections, response actions, and periodic surveillance.

Do I have the right as a teacher or employee to access my school’s asbestos management plan?
Yes. Parents, teachers, and school employees, or their representatives, have the right to inspect the school’s asbestos management plan. The asbestos management plan is available for review in the school’s administrative office.

Does this management plan have to be updated periodically?
Yes. The asbestos management plan must be updated with information collected during periodic surveillance every 6 months, re-inspections every 3 years, and every time a response action or other corrective measure is taken within the school. Also, records of annual notifications to parents, teachers, and staff concerning the availability of the school’s asbestos management plan must be included in the asbestos management plan.

Does my school district have to inform me of asbestos that is in my school building?
Yes. Schools are required to notify parent-teacher organizations once a year about the availability of the school’s asbestos management plan and of any asbestos abatement activity taking place within the school.

Was my school required to be inspected for asbestos?
Yes, unless the building architect certified in writing that no asbestos-containing materials were used in the building’s construction. The results of the inspections and all re-inspections, required every three years, are contained within the school’s asbestos management plan. A copy of the asbestos management plan is required to be kept in the school’s administrative office.

Does my school district/local education agency know where the asbestos in its schools is located?
They are required to know and to describe where asbestos-containing materials are located on a blue-print diagram of the school building(s).

Who is responsible for overseeing the management of asbestos in a school building?
The school district/local education agency must appoint a “designated person” to perform and delegate, if necessary, the management of asbestos in a school building. The AHERA Designated Person for the Seattle Public Schools is Troy White, 206-252-0528 or twhite@seattleschools.org.

How can we have the air tested in my school?
AHERA only requires testing following an asbestos repair or removal activity to determine whether the activity has been properly completed. This is done by measuring the amount of asbestos in the air where the repair or removal activity has taken place. However, the educational authority, e.g., the school district, may hire a qualified consultant to test its air at any time.

I have seen the custodian machine-cleaning the floor tile in our school. Should I be worried that these machines will degrade the tiles and create a hazard?
Machine-cleaning of floor tile can be part of a good maintenance program for asbestos-containing floor tiles, as long as the machine is operated properly and the tiles are not in poor condition. EPA has issued special guidance on the proper maintenance of asbestos-containing floor tiles. Undamaged, well maintained floor tiles present little risk to students, teachers, and school staff.

Who is responsible for enforcing the asbestos-in-schools regulations?
In Washington State the EPA is the primary government agency responsible for enforcing the regulations promulgated under AHERA.

Who can I call to report a suspected asbestos violation?
You can report violations by contacting the EPA Region 10 Asbestos Coordinator.

What is EPA doing now about asbestos in schools?
EPA will provide local education agencies and parents and teachers with information about the AHERA asbestos in schools requirements. A new website has been launched, documents have been updated, and a partnership developed with the National Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), the National Education Association (NEA), and the Department of Education.

Where can I obtain more information about the asbestos-in-schools regulations?
You can visit the EPA website.

Contact: Troy White, twhite@seattleschools.org, 206-252-0528

For additional information, visit the following websites:


Stormwater


Lead Based Paint

The Seattle Public Schools Lead Compliance/Work Plan has been developed to comply with the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA) requirement for a written program. The Plan outlines engineering and work practice controls to reduce employee exposure to lead below the permissible exposure limit.

Word version and pdf version of the Lead Compliance/Work Plan is also available upon request.

Contact: Troy White, twhite@seattleschools.org, 206-252-0528

For additional information, visit the following websites: