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Healthy School Environments


A picture of caution tape which reads danger asbestos
Why It's Important
  • Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that is a toxic substance and a known carcinogen. It has been widely used in construction materials, such as roofing and siding shingles, pipe and boiler insulation, and floor and ceiling tiles.
  • Intact, undisturbed asbestos-containing materials (ACM) generally do not pose a health risk. ACM are a problem when they deteriorate or are disturbed (e.g., during renovation) and asbestos fibers get in the air and are inhaled by building occupants.
  • Three specific diseases – asbestosis, lung cancer and another cancer known as mesothelioma – have been linked to asbestos exposure.
What You Can Do
  • Removal of ACM is not usually necessary unless the material is severely damaged or will be disturbed by a demolition or renovation project. EPA's asbestos program for schools (AHERA) takes an "in-place" management approach that teaches people to recognize ACM and actively manage them.
  • AHERA regulations require public school districts and nonprofit schools to:
    • Perform an inspection for ACM and re-inspect every three years
    • Develop, maintain and update an asbestos management plan and provide yearly notification to parents, teachers and staff on the plan and any actions taken or planned in the school
    • Train custodial staff on asbestos awareness
  • EPA's Asbestos in School Buildings website provides basic information on asbestos and its impact on health, fact sheets and Q&As, guidance manuals and links to additional resources.

Find More From...

EPA and Federal Partners

  • Model AHERA Asbestos Management Plan for Local Education Agencies by EPA includes ready-to-use forms for inspections and re-inspections, response actions, operations and maintenance and other AHERA activities.
  • Asbestos Professionals on the EPA website offers the National Directory of AHERA-Approved Courses (NDAAC), which lists training course providers and courses approved for accreditation purposes pursuant to AHERA.
  • Asbestos is addressed on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration website. The website describes the hazards of asbestos and discusses construction and how to evaluate and control exposure. The website also describes OSHA standards and provides links to other resources.
  • Asbestos Enforcement Program by EPA helps schools obtain basic information about the various environmental regulations governing asbestos in schools (AHERA, ASHARA and NESHAP).
  • The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) Regulation (PDF) (15pp, 195KB) requires schools to inspect their buildings for asbestos-containing building materials and prepare plans to manage any asbestos found. The regulation also establishes standards for asbestos abatement actions.
  • National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) applies to building demolition and renovation projects in schools. The regulation specifies work practices and other standards to minimize asbestos release.
  • The Asbestos Model Accreditation Plan (MAP) (PDF) (16pp, 189KB) requires accreditation for people who do inspections, prepare asbestos management plans and/or design and conduct asbestos response actions in schools and other public and commercial buildings.

National Organizations

  • Asbestos in Schools: Resource List Exit EPA Disclaimer by the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities offers an annotated list of links, books and journal articles on how asbestos abatement and management is conducted in school and university facilities, and how schools may comply with federal regulations.

Regional, State and Local Resources

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