Huntington Beach, CA Students Displaced Following Asbestos Scare

Nearly 1,300 Ocean View School District students of Huntington Beach, California were recently displaced after fears emerged regarding an asbestos scare at Oak View and Hope View elementary schools. These students have not been able to attend their original schools since October 6th after asbestos was discovered while renovations were being conducted at the schools. As a result of the asbestos discovery, the students will be forced to attend school at one of seven different campuses in four other school districts. The students will have to attend these schools while the Ocean View School District works quickly to remove asbestos that was discovered in the ceiling tiles of the schools. This process could take over two months before the asbestos threat is tackled and removed.

The Asbestos Scare at Oak View and Hope View Elementary Schools

The asbestos test results for Lake View Elementary revealed that asbestos was present in two different classrooms. At Hope View Elementary, a test sample revealed that a single asbestos fiber was present under a tile that had been drilled into in order to run television wires. When the schools were first built, an asbestos mineral was used to fireproof the ceiling’s metal beams. As years have passed, asbestos dust has begun to fall from these beams, settling on classroom ceiling tiles. Though undisturbed asbestos does not present significant harm, risks could exist once the asbestos dust becomes airborne and subsequently inhaled by students and staff. Inhaling asbestos containing fibers has been proven to cause serious life-threatening illnesses such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

When the school district began its modernization program for 11 different school sites, parents became concerned that their students may be exposed to carcinogenic asbestos dust as a result of the renovations. These fears were well-founded and, as a result, the school district, the state of California and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration are all conducting investigations to determine whether asbestos was properly abated before the first day of school. There is also an additional investigation into whether the construction projects that were undertaken were explicitly prohibited by law from being conducted while school was in session.

The current displacement of Huntington Beach students reveals the complicated issues that can arise when asbestos fibers are discovered in public places. The primary concern for Huntington Beach parents has been the fact that exposure may have already done permanent damage to their students who had been in school for a month before the asbestos was discovered. In response to the asbestos scare, the school district has held an assortment of meetings that have allowed parents to discuss their concerns and ask questions about asbestos contamination with healthcare experts. The school district has also arranged for the students and staff to be relocated to schools located in four other districts. However, some parents have expressed concerns about the difficulties that would come with sending their children to the relocation schools, some of which are as far as 10 miles away.

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