Since 1986, with the introduction of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, all American schools must be inspected for the presence of asbestos. If asbestos levels beyond the legal limit are found, then the school must undergo an expensive and time-consuming remediation process.

This online investigation is based on such an inspection-remediation process of an urban high school that, like most old buildings, contains numerous asbestos-bearing construction materials...


Central Brooklyn High School grew with its community. A new wing was added to the original 1945 school in 1965 and again in 1975. With the youngest wing now more than 25 years old, the school is in need of restoration and repair; walls have cracked and pipes coverings have split, exposing the insulation within. 

Given the age of the buildings, it is likely that asbestos is present in the materials from which the school was built. Accordingly, repair will proceed only after an  asbestos-hazard assessment has been conducted. The most potentially hazardous building will be repaired and abated this year. The building that poses a lesser threat will be attended to in the following year, whereas the least hazardous wing will not be repaired until the third year's budget is passed.

Asbestos abatement is much more expensive than just repair alone, and obviously the school has a tight budget. The principal of Central Brooklyn High School hopes that not all three wings will require asbestos abatement so that sufficient money will remain in the renovation budget for new handball courts. The results of your hazard assessment will decide this matter.

Obviously, before you can conduct a proper asbestos-hazard assessment you will have to become familiar with the theory and procedures involved, and so you must fully explore the three links below...

The Geology of Asbestos:

A Study of Fibrous Silicate Minerals

(Includes Investigation 1)

Identifying Asbestos in the Lab:

The Polarized Light Microscope

(Includes Investigations 2a and 2b)

Asbestos in Our World:

The Uses, Health Hazards and Assessment of Asbestos

(Includes Investigation 3)


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© 2001 Wayne G. Powell