Asbestos in Schools: We Need More Significant Actions!
Asbestos has been spreading everywhere. Formerly, it was only discovered in domestic or commercial buildings, now asbestos was also found in schools. Hundreds of schools in the state of NSW could be contaminated with asbestos.
In addition, from 1,440 schools in Victoria, only 34 schools passed the asbestos audit, which means only 3% of the schools are free from asbestos.
This is quite a shock for the parents. Asbestos can also be found in the place that supposed to be safe for their children.
The Increase of The Asbestos Incidents
As asbestos incidents are increasing, the anxiety and skepticism also escalated among parents. Parents have started to get worried about the health of their children. They are afraid that their children can be repeatedly being exposed to fibre asbestos sheeting, which commonly used as landfill in school playgrounds and ovals.
Furthermore, the fibre is found in places that can be reached easily by the students, such as air conditioning, floor tiles, drywalls, wallboards, and chipped paint.
Is The Current Cleanup Effort Enough?
Some schools have been through some clean up like in Manly West Public School. The school has experienced three-time clean ups after some asbestos found in its school oval in 2012. Unfortunately, the first two clean ups didn’t succeed. After the unsuccessful clean up, the school decided to hire a professional asbestos consultant that cost them tens of thousands of dollars for the third cleanup.
Several contractors told the ABC News that some schools have contacted them. They were worried about the asbestos presence in their school grounds. The schools that made contact were the schools that were unsatisfied with how the education system handled the problem.
They criticised the method of cleaning. It was more like “chicken picking”, the team in protective gear walking in a line then put the asbestos fragment found into a double bag. What they did was just skimming the surface, and that only gave a temporary repair.
Needs More Significant Actions
Commonwealth Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency chief executive, Peter Tighe, labeled the government inadequate effort in solving the problem as a band aid treatment because it didn’t fix the problem; instead, it might cause a greater problem.
Minimising the Asbestos Risks
To minimise the risk from the exposure of asbestos, establishing asbestos management plan should be carried out by schools. Schools are obliged to have asbestos register containing details related to asbestos, such as the suspected location, type of asbestos, and how and when the eradication will be conducted.
The ABC reported that almost 400 schools all over the state of New South Wales had applied asbestos management plan. Based on their AMP record, most findings of asbestos fragments were on school grounds and the removal of the fibrous cement had been done only for those that were on the surface of the ground.
Therefore, the clean up and the removal only limited to the reachable areas only. This situation caused more worries about the fact that what have been found now might be only the tip of some larger problems.