P.S. 87 Parents Skeptical of Student Safety as Asbestos Removal Project Begins

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By Jessica Easthope

For any parent, sending a young child off to school can be scary. They face challenges with schoolwork, bullying and sometimes worse. 

Now parents at P.S. 87, the William T. Sherman school have another, very real concern: asbestos. 

P.S. 87 was built in 1889, and now requires some much needed repairs. The school is just weeks away from undergoing a major renovation to replace its roof, windows and boiler, not to mention removing asbestos, the very thing that has parents terrified to send their kids off to school. 

“This is a kind of scary thing but it’s also something that has to get done,” said parent Bernie McCormick. “But it also has to get done for the school to improve, so overall I think it’s a good thing, but it doesn’t come without risk.” 

“Taking the precautions they need, they do things to separate the areas to make it safe, but it would still be a concern of mine,” said Chris Jones, whose child also goes to the school. 

The school construction authority has assured parents all the work done to the school will be well within local, state and federal guidelines. The agency has also insisted it’s taking every precaution.

“They know what needs to be done and they’re trying,” Chris added, “but they can’t stop every single microscopic particle from being moved to the wrong area. It’s the reality of how things work.” 

The removal can cause microscopic asbestos fibers to be released into the air, and if breathed in can, cause life-threatening illnesses such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis that could go undetected for years. 

“The residual effects of asbestos are years down the line, and that’s concerning to us as well because it’s not immediate,” explained parent Karinna Dancourt.

In a statement, the school construction authority said in part, “air samples are collected before, during and at the completion of projects.” 

One expert, Jacob Singer, said the safety measures are so strong he wouldn’t worry about sending his own child to the school.  

“They should feel like New York City has their best interest in mind, and that the company is being compliant,” he said.

The work gets underway in March, and should be done by 2022.