Many Mississauga Schools Contain Asbestos That Cause Health Problems

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Elementary school teachers in Ontario are pushing for a ban on asbestos: a type of mineral fibre present in the building material of quite a few older Peel public schools.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is supporting a request from the Canadian Labour Congress to ban asbestos in Canada, according to a recent Mississauga News article.

“We are concerned for our members, students and school communities as asbestos-containing materials such as ceiling tiles and pipe insulation can be present in aging school buildings within view and within reach,” said Sam Hammond, president of the EFTO, in a statement released on Tuesday.

While asbestos is not used as commonly as before, the current concern surrounding it is that breathing it in can cause major health problems such as lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Hammond said that intense activity in certain areas of the school, such as classrooms, hallways and gyms, can contribute to asbestos disturbance and put the school at risk.

He believes the province should have a public registry for buildings that contain asbestos, including public schools.

Spokesperson Carla Pereira told the News that asbestos should often not be a concern as long as it is maintained properly.

“It’s important to understand that the presence of asbestos in our schools is not a health risk. Health concerns only arise if asbestos is crumbled or pulverized,” said Pereira, who mentioned that the schools in question were built before 1985 back when asbestos use was more prevalent.

A list was released showing the names of all Peel District School Board locations that contain asbestos - 148 total, more than half of Peel's 250 schools.

A similar list shows all of the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board sites that are suspected of containing asbestos. Catholic board spokesperson Bruce Campbell said that all their buildings constructed before 2000 are being suspected as a precaution.

“Many older buildings continue to have friable and non-friable materials, that, if maintained, do not pose a health risk,” Campbell said as reported by The News.

Both school boards have an asbestos management program to adhere to provincial regulations concerning materials that contain asbestos.

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