The very resilient, fire-proof, yet toxic fiber asbestos was found in 96% of South Korean Schools, a report determined Friday. This discovery has raised concern regarding the hazard of this mineral and its effects on students’ health.
Asbestos exposure is linked to the aggressive and fatal lung cancer, mesothelioma. Exposure to asbestos for as little as a day can cause serious, debilitating damage to one’s health. Unfortunately the cancer has a latency period of 20 to 50 years, so once a person is diagnosed with the disease, the cancer is often in its late stages making conventional treatment highly ineffective.
While South Korea has banned the use of asbestos in new construction since the late 1990s, all 63 buildings built before the 80s were found to be contaminated with asbestos. The study also found 82.5 percent of the facilities built between the 80s and 90s had asbestos, and 85.7 percent built between 1990 and 2000 contained the toxic fiber.
Even though asbestos was banned in the late 90s, five of the eight schools built since 2000 were also found to contain asbestos fibers. Officials noted that while the newer buildings may not have been built with asbestos, the toxic material was used for repairing the new facilities.
Friday, the Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education made this information public. In the report they stated that specialists examined 100 schools, kindergartens and other learning buildings in six major cities and provinces across South Korea, and, as stated previously, 96 of them were found to have asbestos.
The report stated that, if it is assumed that 96 percent of all schools in South Korea are contaminated with asbestos, it would cost 5.4 trillion won, 4.9 billion US dollars, to safely dismantle and rebuild the schools.
Bernama (June10, 2011) “Asbestos Found In 96 Per Cent Of South Korean School Buildings: Report” Retrieved on June 10, 2011 from Bernama.