Asbestos Exposure in New York School Riles Parents

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With their children at risk forasbestos exposure, parents at a Brooklyn public school are in an uproar.

Ourmesothelioma attorneys share their anger at the district’s actions, which involve the city’s plan to begin asbestos abatement during the school year – a multimillion dollar project.

It’s our understanding that the windows of the school contain asbestos, a product that for years was commonly used in some 3,000 products, including insulation, textiles and building materials. It is now well-known to greatly increase health risks, leading to lung diseases and mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer. Asbestos exposure is particularly dangerous when its airborne particles are breathed into the lungs.

Production of asbestos continued well into the 1970s, when the Occupational Safety & Health Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency began to regulate it. Asbestos was banned in New York in 1972, but a number of the city’s older schools – like Cobble Hill in Brooklyn – still contain it.

Getting rid of it involves strict regulations, meaning it has to be done by a licensed company and the work has to be approved and overseen by the EPA.

Still, what has parents upset is that the asbestos abatement will be done during the school year. Additionally, parents weren’t initially informed of the work and the potential risks to the health of their children.

The school district has promised that all asbestos abatement will occur after school hours, in the evenings and on weekends. The parents, however, are demanding that the work wait until summertime, noting a long history of construction companies and inspectors not following proper protocol when it comes to asbestos removal.

Parents have staged protests and sit-ins – all to no avail, as of yet.

The renovation work is expected to take some 18 months, and involves not only new windows, but a new roof and an updated facade.

Parents have noted that since the project started in March, the windows and playground equipment have been covered in dust on multiple occasions. This has raised legitimate concerns over the risk of airborne asbestos exposure for their young children.

School officials are insisting the work is safe, but aren’t offering up any proof of this, other than the fact that the work will be done when no students are in the building. Yet, as we all know, dust particles can remain in the air hours or even days and weeks after work has finished.

The parents argue that school officials had time during winter and spring breaks to start on the work – and yet, they did nothing. Now, with summer break just around the corner, school officials refuse to wait until classes have wrapped up for the year.

Young children as well have joined the protest, carrying paper signs that say, “Do It In The Summer,” a message to school officials.

The school teaches some 680 students in pre-K through fifth grade.

The Ferraro Law Firm provides comprehensive legal services, including for victims of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. Offices in Miami, Washington, D.C., and New York City.

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