The EPA's Asbestos Pamphlet: There is Asbestos In My Classroom?

In 1979, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a question and answer booklet to help schools investigate, find, and remove the asbestos that could possibly be lurking in their buildings. However, these guidelines were still merely suggestions, not enforced laws. Today, the federal policy for asbestos in schools follows an "in place" system, where buildings must be inspected for asbestos but its removal is not required (according to the EPA).

The issue is, asbestos was used extensively as an industrial material and so there is a large chance that most buildings built before the 1980s contain the toxin. The EPA acknowledges this, saying:

"Asbestos-containing materials were used in constructing or renovating many schools (and other buildings) through­ out the nation."

The EPA makes a key distinction between friable and non fribale asbestos, where friable asbestos, when "subject to pressure or vibration...can release asbestos fibers which can be inhaled." To rid the school buildings of these dangerous asbestos filaments, the EPA prepared a concise plan:


The EPA made this booklet because schools were in desparate need of technical assitance. The expert information that school districts needed to tackle the complex project of identifying and removing the asbestos in their buildings was hard to come by. Thus, this how-to guide by the EPA was crucial.

Teachers and students easily spend over 40 hours a week in old school buildings. Even though this pamphlet was comprised of suggestions and not laws, the EPA's prescribed measures would be key to lowering the risk of exposure in school environments.