Back to school – be aware of your childrens surroundings
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 70% of all American & Canadian schools have a mold problem. With their flat roofs and lack of maintenance this number is not farfetched. With budgeting for public schools constantly being discussed and adjusted, all too many schools fail to be properly maintained. Budget cuts in funding too often leave schools in disrepair. A common site in too many schools is a leaking window, ceiling or water pipe. According to every credible source on the subject, including the EPA, if building materials are not dried out within 24-48 hours mold will begin to grow.
If these conditions are not corrected it can lead to a serious mold problem within the school’s breathing environment for faculty and students. It does not even need to be visibly growing on the surfaces of the windows, walls or ceilings of the school in order to affect the health of it’s occupants. It can be growing inside the walls, where a pipe broke or above the ceiling, without being visible. Many of the structural molds are toxic. They produce mycotoxins to kill off their microbial competitors. Mycotoxins can damage the brain and central nervous system. This is why it is important to keep a close eye on your children and what they are surrounded by each day.
Mold is not the only concern that you should keep an eye on unfortunately, One area of concern for parents and teachers is the finding of asbestos in school buildings. If a school was built before the 1980s, it’s likely that it contains some form of asbestos. About half of all schools in the U.S. and Canada were built from 1950 to 1969, when asbestos materials were highly prevalent in construction.
When maintenance work disturbs these materials, or they start to deteriorate over time, asbestos dust can enter the air and be inhaled. Exposure to the dust puts teachers and students at increased risk for mesothelioma, lung cancer and other serious lung conditions.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asbestos-containing materials reside in many of the approximately 132,000 primary and secondary schools in the nation. These schools serve more than 55 million children, and are the worksites for more than 7 million teachers, administrators and support staff.
As long as asbestos building materials remain in good condition, the EPA insists they pose minimal health risks and recommends schools leave them in place. But if negligent maintenance work or improper abatement procedures occur, otherwise harmless asbestos products can cause serious exposures.
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