04/27/2010

(Mesothelioma News) -The sudden discovery of asbestos at a suburban New York high school forced an evacuation of students on March 25-and an early start to spring break.

It was also an unsettling reminder that asbestos-a material linked to diseases including lung cancer and mesothelioma, an almost always fatal cancer of the protective lining covering many internal organs-remains a persistent foe, often present but undetected, jeopardizing the health and lives of those exposed to it.

The discovery of asbestos in a school setting is particularly troubling, since mesothelioma can develop decades after exposure and the prognosis is usually grim.

The material was discovered near a dumpster in front the school, Syosset Senior High School on Long Island, just east of New York City. To minimize potential asbestos exposure, students were evacuated immediately in a process described as orderly, but completely unexpected.

“We were in class. Then the teacher went out in the hallway, and we heard the announcement,” said sophomore Ali Warrack. “Everyone was dead quiet. And then they told us we needed to go to the bleachers and wait for buses or get picked up [and to] bring everything for vacation, that we weren’t going to be in school tomorrow.”

A removal operation was launched immediately, though the school remained closed until April 7, the scheduled end of spring break.

The source of the asbestos, according to school district officials, was what they called “asbestos planks,” which had been in the basement boiler room and were removed as part of a cleanup. Experts told CBS 2 TV that since asbestos is dangerous when it is airborne-presenting risks for mesothelioma and other types of cancer-the critical questions are: What condition were the planks in, and how long was the asbestos exposed to air inside the school?

While officials said that air test results were normal, and students were at no risk for dangerous levels of asbestos exposure, the discovery was still troubling, demonstrating once again that while the dangers of asbestos are well known, finding and eliminating the material can be difficult.

“I’m happy, I guess, because we get an extra day off,” said senior Aaron Lin. “But I hope nothing bad happens.”

This news was brought to you by the asbestos mesothelioma attorneys at Cooney & Conway, a nationally recognized firm that has brought recovery, and justice, to those harmed by preventable asbestos exposure.

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