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Asbestos remains a major public health threat

Asbestos has been the bane of the construction industry for decades. The dangers of the material have been evident since the 1970s, and the U.S. government banned its continued use in 1986. But problems remain, as some schools and other facilities still have asbestos in walls, ceilings and corners accessible by the public.

The Office of the Inspector General in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined recently that up to one-third of the country's schools contain asbestos, a harmful material that can shed crystal fibers that get lodged in lungs and other soft tissue. Out of all compliance inspections scheduled between 2011 and 2015, the EPA was able to complete only 13 percent of them.

The states containing asbestos-affected schools and other public buildings had to pick up the slack. This is a problem in Louisiana and other southern U.S. states because the federal agency conducted no inspections in that region between 2012 and 2016.

Although asbestos has been controlled for three decades, exposure still happens. A California school was evacuated recently when routine maintenance sent asbestos fibers floating down hallways. A Louisiana school recently had to hold a town hall meeting to convince parents their facility is safe.

The EPA claimed they would continue their efforts to complete more inspections. A spokesman with the agency said they are "taking proactive steps to reduce asbestos exposure."

If someone has been exposed to asbestos and is feeling the effects of exposure, an attorney may help them claim financial damages that may be vital in keeping health care costs under control. A lawyer can represent one or more victims or asbestos exposure in a civil suit against construction companies, owners or others.

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