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Construction crews at old Tice Elementary worry about asbestos exposure

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Photo: Video by fox4now.com

Construction crews at old Tice Elementary worry about asbestos exposure

By Fox 4 News Staff. CREATED Aug 9, 2013

FORT MYERS, Fla. - At Tice Grammar School in Fort Myers, construction crews have spent months remodeling the 86-year-old historic structure. 

"It's been a good experience," said an electrician on the site. 
 
But some workers worry their health is at risk. Several sent photos of a section of the hallway basement cordoned off. A sign says "Danger Asbestos."
 
"They spray painted it a red color so that none of the workers drill a hole or disturb it," said the same electrician, who asked that his identity not be disclosed for fear of losing his job.
 
He says crews were told the building was asbestos-free.
 
"And now they're going back and having to cut out asbestos while there are workers in the building?" he questioned.
 
The Lee County School District wouldn't confirm or deny there's asbestos at the school. But in an e-mail a spokesperson says older schools have some asbestos and that it's always removed when any portion of a school is remodeled. The district says materials are removed according to Department of Environmental Protection standards. 
 
"The dust gets on your clothes, gets on your shoes it gets in your hair," said the electrician.
 
Nearby Tice Storage employees aren't convinced its safe. "I'm breathing this stuff in, it's ridiculous," said Teresa Melock, the resident manager. "I shouldn't have to fear for my safety and my health."
 
But the school district says not to worry. It cites OSHA inspections on July 24 and July 31, during which no issues were found.
 
"I don't believe it's a safe work area," concluded the electrician and others Fox 4 spoke with off-camera.
 
The school district says by law, a certified asbestos inspector investigates every school for the substance. That person makes sure when any of the substance is found, that it's properly contained.