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Asbestos Posed Risk, Parents Say

A lump of asbestos that fell from ceiling panels of a north Spokane elementary school posed no health risk to students, health officials said Wednesday.

But the incident last week at Madison Elementary outraged parents, who weren’t advised of the problem until they asked about the “hazardous materials” tape across doors.

“We have the right to know about the safety of our children,” complained parent Carrie Miller.

Students were exposed to trace amounts of asbestos when a 4-by-8-foot section of the roof collapsed under the weight of rain and snow last Thursday. A load of wet ceiling insulation fell to the gym floor.

Students ate lunch in the gym before school officials could determine the potential health hazard and seal off the area.

One-paragraph explanations were sent home with students Friday and Monday, sandwiched between notices of Valentine’s Day parties and essay contests.

The county environmental health department found no cause for alarm, however.

Mike LaScoula, county hazardous chemicals adviser, said he wouldn’t be concerned if his children had been in the school when the roof caved in.

“It appears District 81 did everything prudent,” he said.

District spokesman Hugh Davis said Principal Shari Kirihara sent parents information as soon as it was available.

But some parents say the school should have been evacuated.

Afterward, several kept their children at home.

, DataTimes