Caution: Asbestos – Two nations divided by a 'common' hazerdous chemical

Posted on February 11, 2009 by yankeebean

yankeebeanI grew up in the mid-west of America, and proud of it!  It was a fine place to spend my formative years, even if I do say so myself.

One year, when I was in the 5th grade, it was discovered that asbestos had been used in the building of our school.  And ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE.  We were relocated to another building, the old school was completely gutted and ‘treated’ and rebuilt and ‘de-asbestos-ed’.  Parents were in an uproar, wondering if their kids had inhaled the silent-but-deadly killer.  Many a memo went out to families in the district with updates and implications and safety information.

It was melee…

asbestosI then went on to do my A-levels in the South of England (equivalent to my Junior and Senior year of high school).  The FIRST DAY I was there, I saw these signs hanging all over the walls of the Common Room.

‘DO NOT DISTURB???’  I was 16 for God’s sake!  It was my very nature to leave a path of wreckage and destruction wherever I went!  What if we decided to play a game of human bowling using bike-helmets and GCSE students?  What if we flailed too flamboyantly while reenacting Billie’s dance from the Do You Have a Girlfriend video?  What if one of our ‘lock the Head of 6th Form in his office’ schemes got out of control?  I can see many a way that we might have disturbed the asbestos…

‘Do not disturb’, they say, like the asbestos had a heavy night and needs its rest…

It’s so (adorably?) English to say, ‘We’ll just leave it, it’ll be fine’ and so (blatantly?) American to say ‘Let’s rip the whole thing down and dance on the debris!  MWAA HA HA HA HA HAAAAA!!!’

Sorry, better keep my voice down.  Don’t wanna disturb the asbestos…

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  1. Pingback: Descaling your tea kettle as a feisty American in the UK: you are doing it, right? « She’s not from Yorkshire…

  2. notfromaroundhere February 11, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    (putting geeky science hat on) It’s actually true; asbestos used as insulation is safe as long as it remains in place and is not “disturbed”–the greatest threat from asbestos comes if it’s coming apart or during its installation or removal. If it’s in your walls but behind closed doors, so to speak, it presents virtually no threat.

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