Special crews in hazmat wears came a few days back and removed the ceiling tiles which contained asbestos material from the Asbury Middle School, central office of the Marshall County Schools, and Marshall Tech. School maintenance workers will come to replace those tiles soon, says Mark Rains, the President of the Marshall County Education Board. The tiles which were taken from the central office as well as next door in Marshall Tech were from the hallways only, says Ken Barnhorst with the AL Environmental, a Tuscaloosa-based asbestos abatement contractor. He said ceiling tiles had been removed also at Asbury Middle, but at that time, he was not immediately aware whether it was just from hallways. Nathan Pee of the Birmingham-based Safety Environmental Laboratories & Consulting was there in the central office on Wednesday morning for carrying out air testing following the removal of asbestos. He conducted similar air quality tests in the Asbury Middle and the Marshall Technical School as well. The tests were carried out with pumps which suck the air through their filters, gathering the particles which were examined for ensuring that the buildings were absolutely safe for tenancy after the ceiling tiles containing asbestos were disturbed at the time of removal. Asbestos is a fibrous mineral which occurs in soil and rock. It was once mined extensively because of many of its useful properties. Due to such properties and its low cost, asbestos was widely used as a construction material in the United States, especially until the 1980s. Strength, flexibility, ductility, durability, resistance to heat, electricity and fire etc. are some of the good features of asbestos. Despite all these features, asbestos is a very dangerous material which can cause respiratory problems and deadly diseases including cancer. For this reason, asbestos became a highly regulated material in the United States after the 1980s. Many countries have already banned asbestos. However, it is still not compl etely banned in the United States. One main area of worry for the U.S. parents is the presence of asbestos material in the school buildings. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) says asbestos-containing materials are there in a number of schools in the nation. According to the agency the material is present in more than 132000 schools that serve 55 million or more children. These schools are worksites for 7 million or more teachers, managers and supporting staff. If the school buildings are not relatively new, almost certainly it contains several asbestos products. But majority of the school buildings are old and the average age of a school building is 42 years in the United States.