Dozens of students at a small Ohio religious school were exposed to deadly asbestos after they volunteered to help gut a former YWCA.
The Buckeye Education School, located in Berea, now faces a criminal investigation, according to a story from WKYC, a local news station. The school's students some as young as 13 removed the asbestos-containing materials without any protective gear. State regulations require property owners to rely on certified contractors to remove asbestos.
The Buckeye Education School bought the YWCA facility because it wanted more space. When the renovation began, students volunteered to assist. A neighbor of the former YWCA took a film of the asbestos removal, which was done over several weekends. "The entire site was contaminated with asbestos and the people who were doing it were all children, said the neighbor. The kids were loaded with it," he says. His video shows the students removing debris with buckets and a small front-end loader. After dropping the material in a dumpster, a large cloud of dust fills the air.
After receiving a complaint in early December, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began investigating. When the state's environmental regulators visited the site on December 13, they found three dumpsters filled with debris thought to contain asbestos. There was more suspect debris strewn all around the property, according to Ohio EPA inspection reports. Tests later confirmed that the floor tiles, pipes, and duct fabric contained asbestos.
A school representative stated: "We are fully cooperating with the EPA for an amicable resolution to the situation."
Regulators say it's impossible to tell how much asbestos entered the students' lungs. They are urging the children to get chest X-rays and respiratory testing for early warning signs of future problems.
Mesothelioma has a very long latency period between exposure to asbestos and the onset of symptoms from 15 to 40 years. Some people exposed to asbestos decades ago may only now be exhibiting symptoms of mesothelioma. These include shortness of breath, fatigue, coughing, chest pain, and fluid in the lungs.
If you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos and have received a mesothelioma diagnosis, there may be legal options available. Call Sokolove Law today for a free legal consultation about a mesothelioma lawsuit.