Maintaining Clean Environments
In the past, asbestos was used extensively in building materials because of its insulating, sound absorbing, and fire retarding capabilities. Virtually any building constructed before the late 1970s contained some asbestos.
Intact and undisturbed asbestos materials generally do not pose a health risk. Asbestos materials, however, can become hazardous when, due to damage or deterioration over time, they release fibers. If the fibers are inhaled, they can lead to health problems, such as cancer and asbestosis.
In 1986, Congress passed the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) which requires schools to be inspected to identify any asbestos containing building materials. Suspected asbestos-containing building materials are located, sampled (or assumed) and rated according to condition and potential hazard.