Is There Asbestos In Chalkboards?

Is There Asbestos In Chalkboards?

With the number of studies about the devastating effects of asbestos exposure increasing, the risks of asbestos use in the last century's construction industry become more and more known. Various buildings built before the 1980s present serious asbestos exposure hazards, and older school buildings are no exception. Not only may the structure contain this dangerous material, but there are likely asbestos-containing products present in the classrooms, which is of concern.

EPA regulations point out that public and non-profit private schools need to follow specific regulatory requirements to protect children and employees from asbestos exposure. It means that asbestos products must be prospected to create a safe environment for everyone inside the school. One such product in every classroom is the chalkboard, which may contain asbestos in:

  • backing materials
  • adhesive
  • chalkboard paint

While it's not sure that all chalkboards in schools have asbestos, the possibility exists, and assessing and addressing this risk is crucial. Asbestos-containing products pose no danger of exposure until they are in good shape. The wear and tear over time potentially damages them to the point where they can release asbestos fibers into the air. Since there's no safe amount of inhaled or ingested asbestos fibers, all damaged or deteriorated old chalkboards pose a health risk to students and staff.

Chalkboard Resurfacing, a Possible Solution

Although chalkboards have been a staple in classrooms and schools for generations, with the discovery of asbestos in walls, safety questions have arisen regarding boards made with asbestos. A safe learning environment implies managed and contained risks, and a way to achieve this is by resurfacing chalkboards manufactured between 1950 and 1980 - when asbestos was added to almost every building material to boost its durability and fire resistance.

Replacing asbestos requires harsh budgeting decisions on most occasions when schools try to eliminate the dangerous mineral. It's one of the culprits of many asbestos products becoming worn and torn and representing a health risk when not handled correctly and in time. Moreover, removing or replacing old chalkboards usually involves drilling, further increasing the chances of disturbing asbestos. Resurfacing reduces costs considerably, as there are quite a large number of products on the market available for every budget.

Other Asbestos-Containing Products in a Classroom

Aside from chalkboards, the same standard asbestos-containing construction materials that were commonly applied in building homes throughout the better part of the last century are likely to be found in classrooms and school buildings:

  • insulation materials - pipe and boiler insulation
  • floor and ceiling tiles - older vinyl and acoustic tiles
  • joint compounds and textured paints - asbestos improved their durability and fire resistance
  • heating and cooling systems - asbestos insulation in most older heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems
  • roofing materials - shingles and felt
  • fireproofing materials - insulation of fire doors and fire blankets

Awareness of all potential sources of asbestos in schools is essential, and periodic visual inspection of areas where asbestos is known to be present is of utmost importance. If you suspect asbestos in any of these materials, contacting a certified professional for proper assessment and testing is crucial.

Why Should I Test Products in My Home for Asbestos?

It is often impossible to tell whether asbestos is embedded in a material, as the fibers are too small to be observed with the naked eye. Exposure to asbestos is responsible for serious respiratory conditions, so thorough testing is required to ensure your home is asbestos-free.