3 Hidalgo ISD Schools Test Positive for Asbestos

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HIDALGO – Remodeling on a few Hidalgo ISD buildings are at a standstill after an inspection resulted positive in asbestos.

The schools include: J.C. Kelly Elementary, Hidalgo Early College High School and Diaz Jr. High School. 

Resident Marie Treviño first heard about the issue when she asked a worker why construction at Hidalgo Early College High School was halted.

She said workers told her the temporary halt was due to the asbestos finding.

“I know Hidalgo (ISD) is a small school district and funds are limited. We just want the administration, the new superintendent, to work together and make sure everything is being done in the best interest of our children. That's all we're asking for,” she said.

Along with Trevino’s children, Karla Cantu’s daughter attends Hidalgo Early College High School.

Cantu said she not only worries for the students’ health, but for the staff as well.

“It also affects other employees, people who clean, from the kitchen to teachers. They all educate our kids. They're all affected. And we want to know what's going to happen, what they're going to do about this issue,” she said.

Officials with Hidalgo ISD sent the following statement regarding their findings, which reads in part: 

“Currently, Hidalgo ISD is working on improving the safety of its students on several campuses within the district. As a part of the process, the district is constructing vestibules and upgrading portions of existing buildings. Like in any remodeling construction project, the current buildings are first analyzed and inspected to see what improvements can be made to existing structures before new construction begins. One of the tests conducted was to detect asbestos.

Unfortunately, when one of our buildings was originally constructed, an asbestos-based material was used with respect to the flooring. The material was used as an adhesive under the floor. At no point in time has any student or employee been exposed to the material because it was used and placed under the floor of the building. However, now that the district has an opportunity to correct the situation, it is taking advantage.

The district has engaged a company to abate all asbestos-based materials used in prior construction. Student and employee safety is top priority for Hidalgo ISD, and we will continue to be proactive in our efforts to make sure we provide a safe and secure learning environment for our students.”

A Hidalgo ISD spokesperson said the district is working with a company to remove all the asbestos-based material used in prior construction of the buildings.

As of Wednesday, J.C. Kelly Elementary was back in compliance.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, asbestos was used in products such as insulation for pipes, floor tiles, building materials and in vehicle brakes and clutches. 

Exposure occurs during the removal of asbestos materials, renovation, repairs or demolition. 

Immediate health risks are too small to be seen with the naked eye, but breathing asbestos fibers can cause a buildup of scar-like tissue in the lungs resulting in loss of lung function that can lead to death. Cancer and other diseases may develop. 

Asbestos is now regulated by both OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency.


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