The shock to a parent must be overwhelming when told that their children are being sent home from school due to a roof collapse, but even more shocking would be to learn that those children may have been exposed to air born asbestos which can cause varying forms of asbestos cancer.

According to Dublin’s Independent.ie, many parents in Dublin were recently delivered this news as the asbestos roof of a primary school collapsed with children and teachers in attendance. After heavy rains and much leaking, the roofing and insulation materials became saturated, and the weight of these materials caused them to break through, almost to the schoolroom floor. At this point, the school has been closed due to fears of asbestos poisoning, and parents are left to wonder when their children will be able to return to school.

Extended exposure to airborne asbestos can cause an asbestos cancer called mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs, stomach and other internal organs. Treatment of asbestos cancer depends on the severity, location and type of illness. Although there have been successful treatments, this disease is still considered terminal.

For the children in Dublin, the true question would be, how long have they been exposed to this asbestos material? If the school was in enough disrepair for the roof to collapse, it makes one wonder how long this toxic material has been slipping into the classroom. According to the school’s principal, the school had been requesting financing to make necessary repairs for the last 13 years. That is a lot of students and faculty potentially exposed over the years.

Funding for repairs to the school are currently under investigation and until there is a safe place to continue teaching, students of the school will remain at home and parents will remain on guard for symptoms of any problems.