Asbestos withdrawn from school

The school has asbestos.

For those unfamiliar with asbestos, it was a common construction material in the early 1900s and became very popular in the ’40s. After WWII, and for the next 30 years, schools and other public buildings were built using asbestos for the purpose of its durability and resistance to fire and chemical damage.

Exposure to asbestos causes lung cancer, usually in the form mesothelioma and a non-cancer disease called asbestosis.

In 1989, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a bill that banned almost all products that contained asbestos; however, some buildings around the country including every building on Duncan’s campus still contain asbestos. The year ‘89 also happens to be the year our head librarian, Sheila Mackey, began her career at Duncan High.

“I’m sure every place I’d worked before had it [asbestos],” Mackey said. “I remember when my parents put asbestos shingles on our house.”

Duncan high is obviously not the only place still containing asbestos, or at least very recently.

However it’s not as if the asbestos in the school was only recently known.

“I had heard about it since sometime in the nineties,” Mackey said.

Since the danger signs went up sometime around the time that the renovation/construction began, some students may have been concerned that they are in danger of contracting a dangerous disease.

“Any time they [contractors/agencies] find asbestos, they have to put up those signs,” Assistant principal Hampton said. “When the high school was built, asbestos was a pretty common material.”

Students are not in danger of coming in contact with any dangerous material so long as they do not go out of their way to find asbestos by say, breaking down a barricade or climbing into the ceiling.

“The current asbestos is not airborne,” construction officer and job superintendent, Thomas Holt, said. “Any places clearly marked should not be disturbed. Definitely avoid those areas.”

Contrary to possible belief, the construction company had and has nothing to do with the removal of the asbestos.

“The removal is outside our contract,” Holt said. “It’s the school’s responsibility.”

The construction company merely came across the problem, and did the responsible thing reporting it to the proper authorities.

“They [construction workers] found it when they were getting ready to build, and taking down group walls,” Hampton said.

Ridding the school of asbestos is well underway by the state of Oklahoma and should be completed along with the renovations.

“When the construction is completed, there will be no more asbestos,” Holt said.

The state of Oklahoma Environmental protection agency has guaranteed that accessible areas of the school are safe to enter and that students can rest assured that among the renovations, the complete removal of the asbestos is a priority above others.