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March 27, 1987

Friable Asbestos in Schools Must Be Found by May 1988, Removal Plan Must Start by 1989

Author Affiliations

winter grad
fellow (Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill)

winter grad
fellow (Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill)

JAMA. 1987;257(12):1570-1571. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390120016005

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FOR 20 YEARS, from the 1950s to the 1970s, asbestos was used as a fireproofing agent in America's school systems. Today, the presence of the potentially cancer-causing material is igniting fires of concern across the country.

Parental anxiety, boycotting of classes, and the closing of school buildings in many communities forced the Environmental Protection Agency to mandate the inspection of all elementary and secondary public and private institutions for asbestos-containing materials. By federal law, the inspections must be carried out by May 9,1988, and the implementation of management plans for the removal of any friable asbestos must begin by July 9, 1989.

Children's exposure to asbestos in the schools naturally is of special concern to pediatricians. Higher activity and breathing rates, more time spent close to the floor where fibers accumulate, and natural curiosity or mischievousness may lead children to seek contact with deteriorating surfaces in school buildings. The American