Schools and Site Pollution Liability

By Carter McAuley, Brokerage Service Manager

Fall means back to school! This is an exciting time for most families, the start of a new school year means lots of things to do and learn. It’s also a time for schools to look at their environmental exposures.

Many schools in America are outdated, built decades ago. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average age of America’s public school buildings is forty-two years. Old buildings can be a haven of environmental issues, including asbestos, lead, and mold.

Asbestos is a dangerous substance, and is a leading cause of mesothelioma and other respiratory issues. The EPA estimates that most schools in America (from primary schools through higher education) contain some asbestos. It can be in insulation, ceiling tiles, flooring, and duct work.

Lead exposure is also highly dangerous. Exposure to lead can negatively impact a child’s brain, growth, behavior, and ability to learn. According to the CDC, there is not a safe level of lead that has been identified. Lead exposure in schools can come from old piping leaching into school drinking water and disturbing lead-based paint.

Mold in older buildings, caused by prior water intrusion or HVAC problems can also cause a myriad of health concerns. News stories involving students taking legal action against universities and colleges for mold in residence halls are becoming more and more frequent. A very recent news story involves a claim against the University of Oklahoma where a student announced she is suing due to mold in her dorm causing serious health issues and her eventual withdrawal from the school.

All of these, plus specific risks associated with a school’s particular geographic area, can mean expensive lawsuits for schools, universities, and other educational facilities. A Site Pollution Liability policy can also address other issues for schools, including laboratory chemicals in drains, cleaning spills, pool maintenance, and more.

Site Pollution Liability for Schools

How can a school protect itself? In addition to management plans for specific exposures, Site Pollution Liability policies are a vital tool in managing risk for schools. A Site Pollution policy can address items such as bodily injury, property damage, and in some instances clean up.

If you are interested in learning more about Site Pollution Liability, the environmental risks involved with operating a school, and how they can be managed via a Site Pollution policy, please contact Beacon Hill today.