Contact Us


All News Releases By Date


Inspections in Three Virginia School Districts Shows Children Protected from Exposure to Asbestos

Release Date: 6/4/2004
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543

Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543

PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently completed inspections in three Virginia school districts and found full compliance with federal regulations governing asbestos management in all the schools inspected.

Ten percent of the schools were inspected in the three largest districts in Virginia: Prince William County, Fairfax County, and Virginia Beach, and all passed.

“Inspections like these are a part of EPA’s program to help local education agencies comply with asbestos regulations,” said Donald S. Welsh, mid-Atlantic regional administrator.

Schools inspected in the Virginia Beach City School District are Newton Road Elementary, Old Donation Center - Alternate Education Center, Shelton Park Elementary, Windsor Oaks Elementary, Dey Elementary; Trentwood Elementary; Linkhorn Park Elementary, Princess Anne Elementary, Corporate Landing Elementary, and Salem Elementary.

The Prince William County Public Schools inspected are Mcauliffe Elementary, Coles Elementary, Bennett Elementary, Pennington,Yorkshire Elementary, Occoquan Elementary, School; Garfield High School, River Oaks Elementary, Dumfries Elementary, and Hylton High School.

The schools inspected in Fairfax County are Bull Run Elementary, Virginia Run Elementary; Stone Middle, Waples Mill Elementary, Pine Spring Elementary, Woodburn Elementary; Kilmer Middle, Ravensworth Elementary, Hunt Valley Elementary, Kings Glen Elementary, Lake Braddock Secondary, and Woodson High School.

The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) regulations have been in effect since 1986. Public and not-for-profit non-public elementary and secondary schools must be inspected to determine the presence of asbestos-containing building materials; and based on these inspections, asbestos management plans need to be developed.

The plan identifies where asbestos exists in the school, so, when renovations are being planned, or an emergency occurs, proper safety precautions can be taken to protect the students, teachers, or contractors from exposure to asbestos.

Asbestos-containing materials in buildings do not always pose a problem to occupants and workers. Left intact, undisturbed asbestos-containing materials generally do not pose a health risk. Undamaged asbestos that is properly managed in place poses little health risk to students or teachers. However, it is important that the designated school authorities regularly inspect asbestos containing materials to ensure they remain intact. Removing asbestos often has the potential to create a greater health risk than leaving it undisturbed.

Asbestos can pose a hazard to students, teachers, and school employees when it is disturbed and becomes airborne, and therefore breathable. It can become hazardous when it is damaged, is disturbed in some manner, or deteriorates over time. Fibers embedded in lung tissue over time may cause serious lung diseases including asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma.

Federal regulations require that schools subject to AHERA:

      - have an initial inspection performed and subsequently re-inspect all asbestos-containing materials every three years;
      - develop, maintain, and update an asbestos management plan and keep a copy at the school;
      - annually notify parents, teachers, and employee organizations about the school=s asbestos management plan and any asbestos abatement actions taken or planned in the school;
      - designate a contact person to ensure the responsibilities of the local education agency are properly implemented;
      - periodically survey known or suspected asbestos containing building material; and
      - provide custodial staff with asbestos awareness training.

EPA seeks to provide schools with the technical assistance needed to meet AHERA requirements. Schools that fail to meet the AHERA requirements are subject to enforcement action.