209
18
Environmental Hazards
Paul English and E.Scott Dunlap
The environment that teachers and staff work in can have adverse effects on safety
and health. Numerous issues, such as poor air quality and exposure to hazardous
substances, can create an unsafe environment for all employees. In identifying and
mitigating these hazards, a strong relationship must be built with buildings and
grounds maintenance staff. This chapter intends to identify some environmental risk
factors that are common in educational institutions.
ASBESTOS
Asbestos is the name given to a number of naturally occurring brous minerals
with high tensile strength, the ability to be woven, and resistance to heat and most
chemicals. Because of these properties, asbestos bers have been used in a wide
range of manufactured goods, including roong shingles, ceiling and oor tiles,
paper and cement products, textiles, coatings, and friction products such as the auto-
mobile clutch, brake, and transmission parts. The Toxic Substances Control Act
denes asbestos as the asbestiform varieties of: chrysotile (serpentine), crocidolite
(riebeckite), amosite (cummingtonite/grunerite), anthophyllite; tremolite, and actino-
lite (Environmental Protection Agency, 2011).
Because of the properties of asbestos, it was widely used as an insulation material
for severe heat conditions in building construction. Asbestos also has brous quali-
ties that allow it to be woven into other materials to increase strength of different
materials. Asbestos-containing material (ACM) could be found in many different
materials that were identied by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In 1989, the EPA identi-
ed these different materials as possibly being ACM:
Building materials
Cement corrugated sheet
CONTENTS
Asbestos .................................................................................................................209
Lead ........................................................................................................................ 212
Sick Building Syndrome ........................................................................................ 215
Bloodborne Pathogens ........................................................................................... 216
Case Study ............................................................................................................. 217
Exercises ................................................................................................................ 218
References .............................................................................................................. 218
210 The Comprehensive Handbook of School Safety
Cement at sheet
Cement pipe
Cement shingle
Roof coatings
Flooring felt
Pipeline wrap
Roong felt
Nonroof coatings
Vinyl/asbestos oor tile
Automotive parts
Automatic transmission components
Clutch facings
Disc brake pads
Drum brake linings
Brake blocks
Asbestos clothing
Commercial and industrial asbestos friction products
Sheet and beater-add gaskets (except specialty industrial)
Commercial, corrugated, and specialty paper
Mill board
Roll board (Environmental Protection Agency, 2011)
The properties of asbestos supported the development of many different materi-
als that were incredibly strong and heat resistant. The use of asbestos in automo-
bile brakes was the industry standard because asbestos resists heat when brakes are
applied and because of its strength, which makes the brakes pads last longer. In 1972,
OSHA began to regulate exposure to asbestos in general industry (U.S. Department
of Labor, 1995).
As OSHA gained traction as the new enforcement agency for occupational safety,
many of the different ACM were fazed out of production. Obviously, changing out
ACM brake pads was a lot easier than changing out oor tiles or pipes insulated
with ACM. In the mid-1970s, public backlash and outcry became the norm as many
public schools and institutions were identied as “at-risk” facilities because of the
amount of ACM used in the construction of the buildings. The knee-jerk reaction
was to remove all ACM from all facility buildings in the name of public health
andinterest.
Many experts agree that not all ACM is dangerous. Many of the materials that
are considered “hard ACM,” such as vinyl oor tiles, generally do not pose a health
hazard. ACM that is loose bound, such as spray-on insulation and soundproof-
ing or re-resistant material, can become friable” and pose the greatest hazard.
The term friable refers to the ACM that can unravel or crumble, allowing asbes-
tos bers to be released in the air (Lang, 1984). The problem with many build-
ings and schools that used asbestos as a building material was that the ACM was
not loose, unraveling, or friable material. The national push to remove all ACM
from buildings and mass panic led to many buildings being abated for ACM that
posed no danger at all to health. However, once the ACM was disturbed during

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