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Asbestos and Mold in Schools Pose Serious Health Hazards to Children of Color

WHEREAS, we reaffirm the 2017 resolution that acknowledged that since the 1970's African Americans are disproportionately exposed to toxic ambient air quality and suffer from cognitive disabilities and serious illnesses, including a variety of major respiratory illnesses; and

WHEREAS, mold and uncontained asbestos are known environmental hazards that can lead to a range of serious health issues, such as allergies, headaches, cancers, and death, sometimes decades after exposure; and

WHEREAS, due to the effects of environmental racism, Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities are more likely to be exposed to environmental contamination than other groups; and

WHEREAS, the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) requires public school districts and non-profit private schools to inspect their schools for asbestos-containing building material and prepare management plans which recommend the best way to reduce the hazard from any asbestos-containing materials that may be present; the plans must be developed by accredited management planners and submitted to the State authority; The school authority must notify parent, teacher, and employee organizations of the plans, and then the plans must be implemented; the school district must also perform periodic surveillance of asbestos-containing material every 6 months in its schools; AHERA also requires accreditation of abatement project designers, abatement workers, supervisors, and building inspectors; and

WHEREAS, the Federal Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA)(40 CFR 763) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) require all public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools to re-inspect previously identified and assumed asbestos-containing building materials (ACBM) in all facilities which are owned, leased, or otherwise used as a school building every three years; and

WHEREAS, remediation of such hazards is strictly regulated by the EPA; and

WHEREAS, according to the EPA if you feel you may have been exposed to asbestos fibers in the air, you should consult with a physician that specializes in lung disorders or occupational exposures.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People demands that state Education Departments require school districts to adhere to the EPA guidelines for containment, remediation or removal of mold and hazardous waste and utilize the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) Dampness and Mold Assessment Tool for School Buildings informing the staff and the parents of school children as the exact procedures followed to resolve hazardous conditions; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People urges state Education Departments to direct social workers, school nurses, and family resource centers to inform the affected parents and staff that they should consider being tested for exposure; and    

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will advocate for state Education Departments to require local school boards to thoroughly inspect all schools in their districts and that such inspections be carried out in a timely fashion by licensed inspectors, with all results freely distributed to parents, staff, students and interested public citizens.