Asbestos abatement on tap for older Clayton schools

JONESBORO — School officials are planning asbestos abatement as part of its renovation plans at some area schools in Clayton County.

They presented the school board with plans to do renovations and asbestos removal at Fountain, Lake City and West Clayton elementary schools.

Chief Operations Officer Cephus Jackson said the schools are older and were constructed using once accepted asbestos-laden materials.

Asbestos are naturally occurring fibrous mineral used in the past to insulate and fireproof building materials, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Jackson said asbestos is routinely removed from older buildings. He said it is often found in various spots within school buildings — beneath tile, in pipe insulation and between sheets of metal.

“Asbestos is not a threat when you leave it alone, it’s when you mess with it,” said school board Chairwoman Pam Adamson.

The CDC website states that, when handled, asbestos can separate into microscopic-size particles that remain in the air and are easily inhaled. And the direct exposure to asbestos fibers can cause cancer and asbestosis in humans. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends that exposures be reduced to the lowest feasible concentration.

SPLOST coordinator John Holloway said contractors minimize exposure by sealing the affected areas. He said the removal process “is all very well controlled” and includes negative pressurizing to keep contents from contaminating occupied spaces.