Summer removal of asbestos at GBS completed safely

Molly Stryker, asst. news editor

Molly Stryker

asst. news editor

Over the summer, GBS planned to install new carpeting when floor tile under the carpet in several old pitclassrooms tested positive for asbestos, according to Kimberly Ptak, director of operations.

Asbestos is a fiber found in different construction materials, and it is likely that any given school building built before 1980 has a chance of having asbestos, Ptak says. However, this generally does not pose any concern.

“The [US Environmental Protection Agency] finds that removal of the asbestos-containing materials is not necessary unless the material is damaged or will be disturbed,” Ptak said. “Asbestos that is undisturbed and contained is not a hazard.”

According to Ptak, since there was a project to replace carpeting, the asbestos had to be abated, or diminished, because the construction would disturb the tile that contains the asbestos.

“If asbestos is discovered, it must be safely abated by certified abatement contractors [before],” Ptak said. “Air sampling then confirms that the asbestos has been removed from the space to completion, prior to allowing [people to] occupy the space.”

Dr. Lauren Fagel said asbestos becomes harmful when it is exposed to the air which is what happens during the abatement process.

“They rip up the carpet, they rip up the tiles underneath it, and they have to abate the asbestos,” Fagel said. “That’s when … everything [is] sealed off. So during the time they’re doing that abatement, no one can be present except for the workers.”

According to Fagel, the administration knows there are several parts of the school that still have asbestos, but because it remains sealed in the tile, there is no reason to worry.

“I can say [with] 100 percent certainty that students and adults are at no risk,” Fagel said.