School District Officials Face Problems in Dealing With Asbestos in Their Schools

RCED-85-91: Published: Mar 19, 1985. Publicly Released: Mar 19, 1985.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on how public school districts are handling problems associated with asbestos in their school buildings, focusing on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) and states' efforts to assist school districts in asbestos abatement.

GAO found that: (1) EPA operates technical assistance programs that provide school districts with guidance, information, and training on asbestos problems; (2) efforts to abate asbestos exposure on the national level are hampered by widely varying state requirements and assistance programs; (3) generally, school districts are responsible for making and implementing asbestos-related decisions; and (4) most of the school districts it visited based abatement actions on the findings of consultants. In addition, GAO found that: (1) over 50 percent of the schools in school districts that it visited had asbestos present prior to abatement actions; (2) asbestos has been found in many different types of areas within school buildings, but is most commonly present in insulation; (3) removal is the most frequently chosen asbestos abatement action; and (4) most removal funds are spent for consultants and contractors. GAO stated that many state and local officials suggested: (1) more federal technical assistance; (2) stronger state requirements for asbestos abatement; (3) state contractor certification programs; (4) the establishment of a definitive exposure standard for asbestos; and (5) increased federal funding for asbestos removal.

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