MIOSHA investigates asbestos claims in schools in Ann Arbor
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) – The 7 investigators were the first to uncover allegations of asbestos in some Ann Arbor elementary schools.
Local contractor whistles at Ann Arbor elementary schools over alleged asbestos problems
More of the carcinogenic material has now been discovered in a high school, and state inspectors were on site Tuesday to see if workers and children had been exposed.
7 Investigator Heather Catallo was keeping a close eye on this high school and the state investigation into the asbestos finds, and 7 action news cameras were on when MIOSHA inspectors arrived at the school.
At Community High School in Ann Arbor, you can see dust-covered hallways, dusty display cabinets, and even rubble for office supplies. This is one of several schools in Ann Arbor that have been under construction since last spring and there are now concerns that asbestos may have been damaged during the demolition.
Asbestos is a carcinogenic mineral that was once used for everything from insulation to ceiling tiles.
“You wouldn’t want the public to breathe it in, definitely not kids,” said Dr. Sarah Surber, Assistant Professor of Public Health at Wayne State University in a previous interview on the dangers of asbestos.
On Tuesday, inspectors from Michigan’s Health and Safety Authority (MIOSHA) paid a surprise visit to the community high school.
And this isn’t the only building in Ann Arbor that has been scrutinized by the state. MIOSHA has also investigated allegations that disrupted asbestos in two elementary schools.
Last month a contractor whistled about it, telling the 7 investigators he didn’t think the students would be safe unless the asbestos was properly remediated.
We didn’t use his name or show his face to protect his job, but he wanted parents to know what happened during that construction at Angell Elementary School and Burns Park Elementary.
“It’s on the lunch trays. It is everywhere. It spreads like flour, lands on surfaces and stays there until someone turns on a desk fan, and now it’s back in the air, ”said the contractor, who also said he was exposed.
“I drilled hundreds of holes upside down in a ceiling with powder falling directly on me. So yes, I was exposed a lot, “said the contractor.
Tests in November and July showed that material containing asbestos was found in the two primary schools.
After our first story aired in late August, Ann Arbor school officials restarted asbestos testing in these buildings. They also ran tests at Community High School, which has been demolished since last spring when some students were still in class.
After the asbestos tests in August, schools received the all-clear without any asbestos found on the items tested.
But sources tell the 7 investigators that a community high school teacher ran an independent test that found positive for asbestos. This led to another round of district tests in the high school on Sept. 16, during which asbestos was discovered in a storage room that is part of a science classroom on the third floor.
Some parents we spoke to said they were concerned about the health of their students and others told us they were confident the school will protect them.
“It’s a little worrying, but I trust they’ll take care of it and hopefully not deceive us,” said Mother Tamara Lawler.
AAPS spokesman Andrew Cluely sent us this statement:
At Ann Arbor Public Schools, we have the health and safety of our students, employees, and the community as our top priority. AAPS has successfully managed construction projects across the school district and has in the past worked with MIOSHA as appropriate to ensure the health and safety of students and staff, and will continue to do so.
As a reminder, environmental impact assessments are carried out in preparation for all construction projects, including testing for asbestos-containing materials (ACM) in areas that may be disrupted during construction. During and after all construction projects, our contractors are subject to the highest standards in terms of construction management, safety guidelines, testing and cleaning. The subsequent occupancy of a building by employees and students always requires final approval from an independent and accredited environmental company.
When AAPS was made aware of the potential concern, the district immediately began the appropriate follow-up to ensure health and safety.
We appreciate hearing concerns so that we can effectively take the necessary steps to resolve the problem. We encourage anyone with any health and safety or construction cleaning and auditing concerns to communicate directly with the school administration or the AAPS facility administrators. We remain committed to the highest standards of health and safety; We expect all contractors to meet or exceed these high expectations and meet industry standards.
When asked when the county would remove the asbestos-containing materials from the community high school, Cluely said they would consult with environmental experts on how to safely remove them.
If you have a story for Heather please email her at [email protected]