Like many public school systems across the U.S., Albemarle County Public Schools contains asbestos in some of its older facilities. Albemarle County Public Schools has taken pro-active steps to establish a management process that ensures that all of our facilities meet both Federal and State asbestos management requirements. We believe that it is important for students, staff, and parents to become familiar with the facts about asbestos in our school facilities and the measures we take to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.
The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) was passed into law in 1986. AHERA is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). AHERA regulates asbestos in public elementary and secondary schools. AHERA requires all public school districts and private schools to inspect all school buildings for the presence of asbestos, and to develop Asbestos Management Plans for each school facility.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral found in varous types of rock formations. It is mined, processed, and then usually combined with a material that allows it to be used in many different products. Asbestos became a widely used material in buildings beginning in the early 1900s because it is durable, fire proof, corrosion-resistant and insulates well. According to the EPA, it has been estimated that "there are asbestos-containing materials in most of the nation's primary, secondary and charter schools."
Asbestos can be categorized as either friable or non-friable:
- Friable asbestos can be crumbled, pulverized or powdered by hand pressure. If a friable asbestos-containing material is damaged or disturbed, it presents an inhalation risk because asbestos fibers are more easily released into the air. Examples of friable materials include sprayed fireproofing on structural steelwork, or thermal insulation on pipes.
- Non-friable asbestos is bound or locked into the product matrix, so that the fibers are not readily released. Non-friable asbestos only presents a risk for fiber release when it is subject to significant abrasion through activities such as sanding or cutting with electric power tools. Examples of non-friable asbestos products include vinyl asbestos floor tiles, acoustic ceiling tiles, and asbestos cement products.
Albemarle County Public Schools continues to follow the requirements listed below, in accordance with AHERA (40 CFR Part 763):
- Prepare and maintain an Asbestos Management Plan for each facility
- Designate, train, and certify a lead person to oversee asbestos-related activities in the school system
- Conduct semi-annual surveillance of all facilities containing asbestos in order to repair any damage
- Coordinate a re-inspection of all facilities containing asbestos every three years
- Inform parents and school personnel at least annually about asbestos activities in each school and about the availability and location of the management plan for their review via school newsletters, etc.
- Provide asbestos awareness training for all custodial and maintenance staff
- Ensure all asbestos-related records required by AHERA are accurately maintained (e.g. training, asbestos removal, sampling records)
- Post warning labels in all routine maintenance areas, such as boiler rooms, where asbestos-containing building materials are found
Asbestos in Albemarle County Public Schools
The majority of asbestos in Albemarle County Schools is found in floor tile, therefore, it is non-friable and does not pose a health hazard unless intentionally disturbed. Requirements for posting of warnings have been met. Some asbestos has been removed through prior maintenance and/or renovation efforts; the remainder has been determined not to be a health hazard unless disturbed intentionally. Regardless of the location or source of the material, Albemarle County Public Schools continues to take asbestos seriously. We have included asbestos abatement as part of every facility renovation.
Questions & Concerns:
If you have questions or concerns about asbestos management in our schools, please contact the Environmental Manager, Building Services Department, at 975-9340.