The Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP)has issued a warning in the wake of the Department of Education's 2011 launch of “Brigada, Balik-Eskwela,” the community-based project that aims to spruce up public schools before the start of classes next week.
A release by the trade union warned that the hundreds of thousands of volunteers and teachers joining "Brigada" nationwide could be at risk for "possible exposure to asbestos in old schools."
It asked the DepEd "to supplement its Brigada and or Balik-Eskwela program activities with extra pre-cautionary and safety measures to help people deal with the presence of asbestos and asbestos materials and products in the course of their cutting, sanding, scraping, dusting, renovating, and dismantling old classrooms and school-buildings.
"It is not the intent of this call to dampen or defeat the bayanihan-spirited 'Balik-Eskwela' program. We want this program to succeed but, in so doing, we wish everyone to be safe and protected against possible exposure to the deadly and highly-carcinogenic asbestos dust fibers," a statement by the group said.
It pointed out that asbestos dust fibers are also present in old school building materials, especially the ones built in the 1970s.
"When asbestos is disturbed, dust fibers become very friable. And when these invincible dusts are inhaled even in small amount, anyone exposed will likely suffer an incurable mesothelioma cancer and other cancers caused by inhaling asbestos dust fibers. It can take 10 to 40 years before the problem is realized."
For more information and interviews, contact: Alan A. Tanjusay, ALU Policy Advocacy Officer +63.920.669.9187, email@example.com, +63.2.922.5575 local 122; TUCP-PGEA Compound Maharlika corner Masaya St., UP Village, Diliman, Quezon City.