Smackover-Norphlet Schools issued a biannual asbestos notice to its parents and community Thursday.
The notice, though, isn’t for something new. A few buildings within the district have had asbestos for quite some time, but it isn’t at a dangerous level.
“We feel good about our last inspection, and it’s something we do to ensure we’re in compliance,” Superintendent Jason Black said.
Asbestos is a group of minerals that is used in many products around the globe and can be highly toxic, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
According to the website, it can cause asbestosis, pleural disease, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
“The mere presence of asbestos in a building is not an immediate risk to people and the environment,” reads a pamphlet from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. “Danger exists when asbestos material is damaged or improperly removed and releases fibers into the air.”
In 2015, it was estimated that one-third of the United States’ 131,000 public and private schools were believed to contain asbestos, according to Mesothelioma.com.
The Environmental Protection Agency mandates that public school districts and nonprofit schools have management plans that detail asbestos response actions, location and actions taken to repair and remove whatever contains the asbestos.
According to the surveys for the district, the watched areas in the Smackover-Norphlet district are a section of ceiling tiles in the cafeteria, a section of floor tiles in the preschool/old administration building and a section of floor tiles in the junior high building. The surveys also state the materials contain “non-friable miscellaneous material.”
Friable means material can be crumbled by hand and is more likely to release fibers. Smackover’s materials were not able to be crumbled.
All tiles or panels that contain asbestos in the buildings are covered by nonasbestos tiles and panels, which prevents exposure to students, faculty and staff.
“It’s not a big deal as long as it’s done properly and, at this point, there’s nothing to be done,” maintenance overseer Wesley Lucas said.
Black said the school has the situation under control and there’s nothing to be worried about.
“I feel like our maintenance teams are doing a good job and are being proactive,” Black said. “[There’s] nothing lending itself to be concerning and we’re monitoring the situation.”
State Desk on 12/22/2019
Print Headline: Schools issue asbestos notice