Asbestos not to be feared at school

Jorge Hoolahan, Troy InVoice Reporter

Imagine a material that is fire resistant. It can be woven into cloth to make the cloth fireproof, used as insulation, or mixed in with clay to make fireproof pots. What is this ancient material? It is asbestos and it naturally occurs on every continent in the world and kills 107,000 people a year according to World Health Organization’s website.

Archeologists have even found asbestos dating back around 750,000 years ago but asbestos is believed to have been used earlier in 4,000 B.C. as a wick for lamps and candles. Around 755 A.D. King Charlemagne of France ordered a tablecloth made of asbestos to prevent it from catching fire, an event which occurred frequently during feasts and, of course, celebrations.  These people did not know the health effects of this material; asbestos wasn’t widely used massively until the industrial revolution in the late 1800’s. People did not officially die due to asbestos back then because of a lack of records, but Greek geographer Strabo noted a “sickness of the lungs” in slaves who wove asbestos material into cloth for fireproofing according to asbestos.com. Asbestos was used not only in tablecloths and in clay pots, however. German, Italian, and French knights who fought in the first crusade used trebuchet’s (a catapult using counter weight) to fling bags of pitch and tar wrapped in asbestos over city walls during sieges, in flames of course.

The first officially recorded death due to asbestos wasn’t until 1906 by Dr. Montague Murray who found large amounts of asbestos fibers in the victim’s lungs.

Students and staff at AHS may be concerned upon hearing rumors of deadly asbestos ridden walls. Rest assured, safety is still the number one priority at school, and administrators and Lydig personnel have guaranteed that asbestos poisoning is not in anyone’s future. The likeliness of someone dying, or coming down with lung complications, is much too slim for anyone to worry. First, one would need to know where the asbestos is in the school because on the contrary to popular belief, it is safely “tucked away” in the one, two and a single remote location in the three hundred halls according to Mike Nash. Second, you would likely need a ladder to access these areas so you’re not going to be walking down the halls and see some hanging from the ceiling.

The only people who should worry about the asbestos in the building are the people who will be tearing down the building because, while asbestos may be friable (a material that can be crumbled, pulverized or powdered by hand pressure), there must be airflow in order for the hazardous materials to make it into ones lungs. One will not be walking down the hallway and instantaneously be breathing asbestos fibers in is very improbable due to the measures the EPA takes to ensure the safety of people all around America. During demolition, the areas that contain the hazardous material is practically quarantined with plastic sheets to keep asbestos in and negative air filter to suck the asbestos fibers out of the air for employees to begin removing materials.