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Inspections locate asbestos in new areas in district buildings

August 16, 2016

SGFCSD Building Our Future LogoAs part of the district’s ongoing capital project work, our school buildings are being inspected for materials containing asbestos. So far, results have indicated that there is asbestos in previously unidentified locations in the district, including a crawl space below the high school, and in the joint compound and interior wall adhesive in both Ballard and Tanglewood elementary schools.

These inspections, which have been performed by engineers who specialize in asbestos detection and management, were conducted in addition to the routine inspections that the South Glens Falls Central School District performs of its facilities on an ongoing basis to ensure safety, health and wellness of employees, students and visitors. The district undergoes an asbestos re-inspection every three years as part of its Asbestos Management Plan. (Asbestos Management Plan information is here.) These routine inspections assess areas previously identified as having asbestos. When a district is planning an extensive construction project, the state requires a more thorough inspection to look for any asbestos that may not have been previously identified and monitored.

“It’s important for us to have a clear picture of exactly where asbestos is in all of our buildings,” said Superintendent of Schools Michael Patton, Ed.D. “Health and safety is always a priority, and this new information will enable us to improve our monitoring and maintenance procedures to make sure that we are doing exactly what we need to do to keep everyone safe.”

During the inspection of the high school, engineers found small amounts of asbestos on the floor of the crawl space underneath the original section of building. Over time, small amounts have fallen off the insulation of older pipes on to the ground of the crawl space. The hatches that lead to the crawl space will be sealed off during the 2016-17 school year, and asbestos abatement will take place during the summer of 2017. There is no risk to students or staff coming into contact with asbestos in this area of the building.

At both Ballard and Tanglewood elementary schools, which were built in the 1960s, material containing asbestos was found in the joint compound and adhesive between the layers of drywall in the original construction of the two schools. Engineers noted that the joint compound covers approximately 20 percent of the actual wall surface and is located at the taped seams and at screw heads. While there has been some minor alteration of these walls from push pins or surface-mounted objects in the past, there is no evidence that such activity has ever led to anyone being exposed to asbestos. All surfaces are painted, and the latex paint provides sufficient protection to prevent the release of fibers. The district has been assured that the presence of this material in no way is a hazard to our staff or students.  However, going forward, staff and students will be asked not to disturb the surface of the walls, specifically penetrating below the surface of the paint with screws, nails or push pins. Materials can still be hung using tape.

As the district works through the construction project, updates will continue to be available on the district website. Visit the capital project section by clicking here.

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