by Tom Majkowski
Environmental Scientist

Schools are meant to be safe havens for children, fostering an environment where they can learn, grow, and thrive. However, in North Carolina and across the United States, there’s an alarming issue that threatens the safety of students and staff alike: lead-based paint and asbestos in schools. These hidden dangers, if not addressed promptly and effectively, can have severe health consequences. In this blog, we will explore the presence of lead-based paint and asbestos in North Carolina schools, the risks they pose and the steps being taken to mitigate these hazards.

Lead-based paint was widely used in buildings, including schools, before its ban in residential properties in 1978. Many older school buildings in North Carolina still contain lead-based paint on walls, windows, and doors. The problem with lead-based paint lies in its deterioration over time. As it chips or peels, it can release lead dust and chips into the air, posing significant health risks, especially to children. Lead exposure is particularly dangerous for young children. Even low levels of lead exposure can lead to severe health problems, including cognitive impairment, behavioral issues, developmental delays and physical health effects.

Asbestos is another hidden danger lurking in many older school buildings. It was used in various construction materials due to its fire-resistant properties and durability. However, when asbestos-containing materials degrade or become disturbed during renovations or repairs, they release microscopic asbestos fibers into the air. Exposure to asbestos can lead to serious health problems, including mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.

The Clean Classrooms for Carolina Kids program is an excellent example of how a community can come together to prioritize the health and safety of its students. The following will explore the Clean Classrooms for Carolina Kids program, its mission, and the positive impact it has had on North Carolina schools.

The Genesis of the Program
Clean Classrooms for Carolina Kids was conceived as a response to the pressing need to address environmental hazards in North Carolina schools, including lead-based paint and asbestos. The program was launched with a clear mission: to create clean, safe and healthy learning environments for the State’s children.

Key Objectives of the Program
Lead-Based Paint Abatement: One of the primary objectives of the program is to identify and address lead-based paint hazards in schools. This includes comprehensive assessments of school buildings to determine the extent of lead contamination and implementing strategies for abatement.

Asbestos Removal and Management: Like lead, asbestos is another hidden danger that can jeopardize the health of students and staff. The program aims to identify and safely remove asbestos-containing materials while also implementing long-term management strategies to prevent further exposure.

Promoting Awareness: The program places a strong emphasis on educating school communities, including students, parents, teachers and administrators, about the dangers of lead and asbestos exposure and the steps being taken to address these risks.

Advocacy and Funding: Clean Classrooms for Carolina Kids advocates for legislation and funding to support its efforts, ensuring that adequate resources are available to protect the health of students and staff.

Positive Outcomes and Impact
The Clean Classrooms for Carolina Kids program has already made significant strides in creating safer and healthier school environments.

Some notable outcomes and impacts include:

Healthier Students: By addressing lead-based paint and asbestos hazards, the program helps ensure that students are not exposed to toxins that can lead to serious health problems, such as cognitive impairment and respiratory issues.

Improved Academic Performance: Healthier and safer learning environments are conducive to better academic performance. Students can focus on their studies without the worry of environmental hazards.

Community Engagement: The program fosters community engagement by involving parents, teachers, and local organizations in the efforts to create cleaner and safer schools.

Inspiration for Other Communities: Clean Classrooms for Carolina Kids serves as a model for other communities and states facing similar environmental challenges in their schools, inspiring them to take action.

How Can You Support the Program?
Supporting the Clean Classrooms for Carolina Kids program is not only about creating a safer educational environment but also about investing in the future of North Carolina. Here are ways you can get involved:

Stay Informed: Educate yourself about the program’s initiatives and progress in your local schools.

Advocate: Support legislative efforts to secure funding for the program and raise awareness about the importance of clean classrooms.

Volunteer: Consider volunteering your time and skills to assist with awareness campaigns or school assessments.

Donate: If possible, make a financial contribution to support the program’s activities and outreach efforts.

The Clean Classrooms for Carolina Kids program embodies the spirit of community and the dedication to the well-being of our children. By addressing environmental hazards in schools, the program not only ensures a safer and healthier learning environment, but also empowers students to thrive academically and achieve their full potential. Clean classrooms mean brighter futures, and with continued support and awareness, we can ensure that every North Carolina child can learn in a safe and clean environment. The EI Group, Inc. (EI) is honored to be an integral part of the Clean Classrooms for Carolina Kids program, performing lead-based paint risk assessments and asbestos surveys, and providing management and remediation recommendations to ensure a safer learning environment for all North Carolina pupils.

How We Can Help
EI’s experienced industrial hygiene staff includes Certified Industrial Hygienists, industrial hygiene technicians, environmental scientists and mechanical engineers with a diverse range of regulatory compliance experience. Should you have concerns regarding asbestos or lead-based paint, or other related issues, please contact Tom Majkowski at (919) 906-4686 or [email protected].