Chillicothe, Ohio - Ohio Department of Development has finally awarded the Chillicothe City Schools with $200,000 for the long awaited removal of asbestos from the former Smith Middle School building. The grant is from a Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund and could offset the project's estimated $250,000 cost.
Asbestos is a toxic mineral found commonly in older school buildings. It was initially used for its strength, durability and fireproof properties, but was banned from use in the United States in the late 1980’s because it was linked to the development of such fatal diseases as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the protective lining of the lungs, heart, chest and abdomen.
Smith Middle School was built in 1931, and has been closed since the new middle school was opened in 2007. Now the school board has to determine whether it wants to sell, raze or incorporate the building into the plan for the district's future elementary school campuses. Regardless of the final decision, asbestos removal is a required first step.
The building isn’t likely to sell if prospective buyers know that they will have to pay for the additional cost of abatement. It can’t be demolished without first removing the asbestos to prevent an environmental hazard, and the building can’t be used as a school when a known carcinogen is present, especially one that in forty years time could have students and staff undergoing an aggressive mesothelioma treatment of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation in the hopes of extending their shortened lifespan.