Saturday, May 9, 2009

Invisibly Bad for You and Me

I’ve just got back from Thassos (relieved guilty feelings by offsetting with the Woodland Trust), knowing that I would return with some photos of beautiful sandy beaches, littered with rubbish, like the one below. There for all to see and do something about!

Which made me start to think about the environmental pollution which can’t be seen, but can still have a damaging effect. I know that I used to wonder if any of the old lead water pipes were still part of the plumbing in the kitchen at school, which was built in 1870. Then there was the ceiling in my classroom, a semi- permanent, prefabricated structure, which was added to the school in 1966. Thoughts of asbestos flitted through my mind, but surely not? Then I had an email from a representative of an asbestos awareness group, who asked if I would be willing mention the hazards of being exposed to asbestos. My knowledge of this is very limited, so, thank you Jack Bleaker for providing the information below.

Asbestos was used in thousands of commercial and consumer products, including ceiling constructions, for many years because it was fire retardant and proved to be a useful insulation component. Unfortunately however, asbestos was also found to cause cancer. Microscopic asbestos fibers, which will often become airborne as their surrounding compounds break down or age, are easily inhaled, often without even knowing. Once in the body, asbestos is associated with the rare cancer mesothelioma, known only to be caused by previous exposure to asbestos. Many would be amazed by how many of these types of products are still found in schools today. Pipe coverings, floor tiles, drywall, and other products that permeate schools all contained asbestos. These are the invisible hazards we may encounter every day.

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