Glendale Unified schools to get the lead out

Glendale Unified has turned to three Southern California firms to help identify and dispose of lingering asbestos, lead and other potentially toxic materials on school campuses.

Two years after Glendale voters approved a $270-million bond to upgrade school facilities, several projects are in the design-and-build stage, sometimes requiring officials to inspect for potentially toxic materials before tearing anything down.

The school district recently established a pool of three firms — Global Environmental Training and Consulting, Clark Seif Clark, and Encorp — to help manage toxic materials. Officials anticipate paying for their services with Measure S funds.

“We’re going to have more and more need for people to help us,” said Alan Reising, administrator of facilities. “There’s all sorts of different materials in schools. Most notably, there’s lead and asbestos.”

The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act of 1986 requires educational agencies to inspect for and dispose of the cancer-causing mineral fiber commonly found in building materials if it threatens human health.

Asbestos is known to cause lung cancer and can become a threat if people are exposed to it, but not while it remains behind walls. Asbestos is made up of fibers that can be inhaled if released through the air.

Since the federal act was passed, Glendale school officials have kept a log of where asbestos is in their schools and it is monitored every six months, Reising said. Every three years, consultants intensively search for asbestos in walls and ceilings.

Crews removed asbestos months ago from portable classroom buildings that were torn down at Mark Keppel Visual and Performing Arts Magnet School to make way for a new permanent building.

Although lead still poses a risk, it remains a lesser concern than asbestos.

The last time lead-tainted paint was applied to walls at Glendale schools was in the 1970s, Reising said, but the district could employ consultants to test for the toxin in the air, paint chips and soil.

Testing for the hazardous materials will take place at College View School before crews tear down structures there to begin construction on a new building this November.


Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.




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