What's in the Air? Call for Asbestos Testing Closes Schools

Pinelands Regional High School Google Earth

A school district looking to calm fears of hazardous materials in the air due to the removal of asbestos closed a pair of South Jersey schools for a second day Wednesday as crews tested the air.

The Pinelands Regional School District posted a message to its website about the closures of Pinelands Regional High School and Junior High School “to assure the safety of staff and students.”

Concerns of hazardous dust getting into the air due to a construction project at the high school were raised to the school board Monday night, Acting Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Stevenson said in a news release Tuesday.

Crews have been replacing asbestos roofing and ceiling tiles from the high school and testing levels of the hazardous dust, according to posts on the district's health and safety page.

The district's environmental consultant, TTI Environmental, has been conducting tests “to verify no asbestos or harmful VOCs exist in the building.”

Previous tests conducted over the summer showed no harmful levels of asbestos or harmful materials in the building, the district said.

The junior and senior high schools sit across from each other along Nugentown Road in Little Egg Harbor Township.

The district would still supply transportation to vocational students and planned to resume athletic events but would limit access to the locker rooms and outdoor fields.

Asbestos is a fibrous product that was popularly used as insulation and fire protection for decades. It can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and other ailments, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.