McAllen, TX - Late last week, contractors working on repairing the damage from a springtime hail storm discovered what appeared to be asbestos under the gym floor in the McAllen High School. The discovery occurred on Friday and tests conducted confirmed the presence of asbestos on Saturday.
Though officials assure students, faculty and construction workers that the asbestos is safe and only comprises a small percentage of the material under the gym floor, precautionary measures are already underway. On Monday, McAllen School District officials sent letters to parents of the high school students and kept the gym cordoned off until the asbestos is safely and properly removed.
In the letter sent to parents, McAllen School District officials said that the removal of asbestos or asbestos abatement will be included in the ongoing repair work currently underway in the gym, and the total construction project will be completed sometime in late fall.
Whether the current construction team hired to repair the damage from the March 2012 hailstorm will be the asbestos abatement crew is yet to be determined along with the additional costs removing the toxic material will add to the overall renovation budget.
According to the test results, the asbestos comprises only 2% of the total material found under the gym floor. Further indoor air quality tests were performed to ensure that the air in the gym and the air in McAllen High School is free of asbestos contaminants. Test results proved the air is safe.
Asbestos is classified as a carcinogen or a cancer causing agent, and asbestos exposure is akin to smoking cigarettes. During the mid-twentieth century, the use of asbestos was prolific. Since the confirmation that asbestos is highly toxic, most countries have banned further use or manufacturing of the material. Further, many countries, including the United States, have also banned mining of asbestos as well as importation and exportation of the toxin.
Exposure to asbestos may lead to both short and long term health issues. Primarily, asbestos exposure is linked to mesothelioma, a form of cancer that affects the protective tissue of the lungs, heart and abdominal cavity. Other medical conditions associated with asbestos exposure range from immediate breathing difficulties to lung cancer. However, the most deadly disease caused by asbestos exposure is mesothelioma.