Asbestos Worries in California Elementary School

A teacher who found exposed asbestos pipes in her classroom is worried about the potential of asbestos contamination.

Speech therapist Victoria DeLuca thought the exposed ceiling pipes in her new classroom looked funny – “kind of bumpy and old despite a fresh coat of paint”, an article in the San Francisco Chronicle reports. She suspected asbestos and she was right, despite the fact that an environmental inspection company had given the Highlands Elementary School a clean bill of health just two years before.

When she asked to have the pipes tested in late October, DeLuca claims a district maintenance worker came to her classroom and cut off a piece of pipe to send to a lab. Though the process of taking a sample from the pipe probably sent asbestos fibers into the air, the cutting was done in DeLuca’s presence and the worker wore no protective gear, she claims.

According to the article, district officials received a report on Oct. 26 saying that the pipes did indeed contain asbestos, DeLuca said, but 11 days passed before school officials told her about the lab results and assigned her and her special needs students to another room. Her old classroom is still closed.

“That’s 11 days we were continuing to be poisoned,” said DeLuca, who has been a teacher in the district more than 20 years. She added that she teaches about 30 students, each meeting with her in her classroom twice a week.

District officials were unable to explain why it took so long to get DeLuca and her kids out of the contaminated classroom, but they maintain that everything possible is being done to protect the health of teachers, staff, and students.

“It’s important that people know that our district is committed to having a safe environment for our students and staff,” said Assistant Superintendent Joan Rosas. “It is our intention to do a good job.”

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