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President Barack Obama’s American Jobs Act by and large will provide $25 billion to invest in school infrastructure to update facilities and provide better learning experiences for children in 35,000 schools across the country.
“Every child deserves a great school – and we can give it to them,” the President said. “We can rebuild our schools for the 21st century, with faster internet, smarter labs and cutting-edge technology.”
Mesothelioma lawyers at The Ferraro Law Firm are on-board with this plan because a major component of the plan is asbestos clean-up at our nation’s schools. As the Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog has reported time and time again, exposure to asbestos in New York, Florida, or anywhere else in the United States is a precursor to the deadly cancer mesothelioma.
When most people hear that a school is outdated, they probably first think of technology, such as computers or internet connections, maybe even what type of books children are using or what lesson plans teachers are using.
But what about the structure of the building itself? Many older school buildings are extremely outdated and many contain asbestos. For years, schools were built with asbestos in the insulation, piping, boiler room equipment and other areas that school children (and their parents) don’t normally see.
When older schools were built, it’s likely the contractors didn’t know the dangers of asbestos. It was used regularly for decades in the United States — from as early as the 1910s throughout the 1970s, when production steadily declined until it ended in the 1990s. While asbestos has never been officially banned in the country, it is no longer used.
But that has left half a century or more of buildings that were made with asbestos, which is fire-resistant and can keep the cold or hot weather out. But as people — including children — began getting sick, officials realized the source was the asbestos.
Even today, schools across the country are having to dedicate millions of dollars to cleaning up asbestos that has been discovered in gymnasium floors, ceiling tiles and back rooms.
When asbestos breaks up and gets into the atmosphere, it gets into people’s systems and forms tumors, typically along the lining of the heart, lungs or stomach. But this form of cancer is different than other forms. Instead of relatively quick movement, the cancer can develop over years or even decades.
Ultimately, the tumors cause fluid build-up, chest pain, heavy coughing and other symptoms. Victims visit doctor after doctor to figure out what’s wrong, if they end up with a mesothelioma diagnosis, the end is near. The average lifespan after diagnosis is only 12 months.
So, it is critical that schools do the right thing — despite financial hardships — and clean up their facilities of asbestos. As the Obama plan states, asbestos cleanup, greening and energy efficiency upgrades and modernization of science and computer labs are all key components of the plan.
While schools are always looking for new teaching techniques, new books, new lesson plans, new products and other ways to enhance learning, officials must look at what else is important — the health of our children. We can’t teach them all the newest things while setting them up for health problems that will render that knowledge useless.
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