Asbestos at 21 francophone schools cleaned up

Parents of students in the Francophone North-East school district are breathing a little easier, now that asbestos in several of the schools has been cleaned up.

Francophone North-East District says renovations done after hours, no reports of unsafe exposure

Parents of students in the Francophone North-East school district are breathing a little easier, now that asbestos in several of the schools has been cleaned up.

A recent environmental review found asbestos levels high enough to warrant removal at 21 of 38 schools in the district.

École La Croisée, built in the 1970s, was among the list of schools, said principal JoseeGaudet.

Studies have linked asbestos dust with cancer and lung disease, but authorities now say it poses little risk when handled properly. (CBC )
Staff and parents were told of the issue soon after it was discovered, and while the threat was minor, many parents were alarmed.

Some brought their concerns to the district, while others went to the parent council, headed by Amelie-MaudeBoucher.

"I was, in the beginning, a little bit scared because you're aware of everything that's going on with that kind of chemical product. But right in the beginning, we were reassured," said Boucher.

She was told the asbestos content was low, that it would be cleaned up quickly, and that there was little risk to her two children.

"You cannot be obsessed with that because that means you can be obsessed with Windex, with any cleaning products you have in your house. Because all of these are chemical products at well," she said.

The evaluation at École La Croisée found crumbling or damaged floor tiles, exposing students to the chemicals inside. The old tiles have since been replaced.

Renovations at other schools have ranged from minor repairs to plumbing upgrades — all done after school hours.

It's not yet known how much the repairs have cost, said district spokesperson Annie Levesque.

It was a complete overhaul of one of the district schools on the Acadian Peninsula last year that prompted administration to take a closer look at its buildings, instead of the current visual evaluations by janitorial staff, she said.

"The last ones from an expert firm was in 2004 so that's why, after Pokemouche, that we wanted to have the list of 21 schools with asbestos materials in them evaluated," said Levesque.

District officials say there are no reports of unsafe exposure to date and that they will continue to monitor the region's aging schools.