The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is falling short of its responsibility to protect children, teachers, and staff in the nation’s schools from asbestos, according to an interagency watchdog.
The report assessed the EPA’s compliance with laws that require local education agencies to inspect schools for asbestos, make asbestos management plans, and take steps to reduce or prevent asbestos exposure. The EPA is responsible for ensuring that states comply with asbestos testing requirements.
The report found that between 2011 and 2015, the EPA conducted only 13% of required inspections. Asbestos was commonly used in American schools from 1946 to 1972 as insulation and a flame retardant in vinyl flooring, textured paint and patching on walls, and steam and water pipes.
Asbestos is a carcinogen that may cause as many as 15,000 deaths a year in the U.S.