Toxins In Our Textbooks

BHS—Curriculum With Carcinogens

April 6, 2023


How would you feel if your kids were in a building filled with asbestos—a deadly insulator? Well, they are every day if they attend Brunswick High School (BHS). BHS is located in Frederick County, Maryland. Since the school was built in 1911, it was made for a much smaller number of students than are currently enrolled at BHS. There are other schools, such as Middletown, in need of a rebuild as well. Brunwick had priority to get rebuilt, until post-covid Middletown’s redbuild took precedence. This is very unfair to the students in Brunswick and is completely unacceptable. Brunswick is filled with countless health and safety issues and is inaccessible to the growing number of new students because of the school-buildings age. All of these problems could be fixed with a new building.

Asbestos deposit in Ontario, Canada, Credit: FlickrAsbestos

 Asbestos has a long history of being used by the Greeks for blankets and tablecloths due to its level of fire resistance, but asbestos had not yet been found in large enough deposits to be used on a large scale at that point. Asbestos can cause things like “asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer”. In the 1800s, once large deposits of asbestos were found in both Canada and the U.S.A, asbestos began being used as a material for the construction of houses and buildings, and it can still be found in most old and outdated buildings; such as Brunswick high school. In the 1970s asbestos’ negative effects were finally discovered, and the material began being phased out, but according to the EPA “About 20% of all public and commercial buildings in the U.S. contain some asbestos material”. Just the presence of asbestos in BHS alone is grounds for a new building to replace the current Brunswick high school building. 

Lead paint chipping, Credit: Flickr

Lead paint has been used for over 40,000 years, and can commonly be found in many older homes and buildings. “Lead-based paints were banned for residential use in 1978. Homes built in the U.S. before 1978 are likely to have some lead-based paint. When the paint peels and cracks, it makes lead paint chips and dust”. This chipping of the paint causes the paint particles into the air we breathe, which makes it dangerous to be in buildings still containing lead paint.  Lead paint can cause “damage to the brain and other vital organs, like the kidneys, nerves, and blood”. Since the current Brunswick high school building is an older building (having been built in 1911), it contains a large amount of lead paint throughout the classrooms. The presence of such a dangerous material is very dangerous to both the students and staff who spend almost everyday surrounded by it.

Brunswick high school’s current building is not safe for its students or faculty and is long overdue to receive a new building. Although there are many other buildings throughout the county in need of upgrades BHS desperately needs a new building; if not for an improved and more effective learning environment, than for the health and safety of both the students and the staff that spend almost every day in the building. BHS is plagued by problems, such as infestation and carcinogens; with no rebuild in sight. I leave you with one question, would you want your kids to go to a school that is in such a condition?

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  • M

    Matthew PorterMay 16, 2023 at 6:59 am

    While this article calls attention to an important issue with our school there is one flaw and that is that the current school building was built in 1965. The 1911 school building was on 4th avenue and burned down in 1928. despite this it is still a quite real possibility that the school contains toxic materials that would be illegal to use today.