Caption: Pittsburgh's Schenley High School in its glory days., Credit: Wikimedia.
Image by: Wikimedia. 
Pittsburgh's Schenley High School in its glory days. 

Distillations Episode 145: Asbestos

From: Chemical Heritage Foundation
Series: Distillations - The Chemistry Podcast
Length: 14:03

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Asbestos, once a miracle product, is now a plague on the aging infrastructure to which it's bound. In this episode we explore a Pennsylvania town where a wide swath of asbestos-contaminated land stands capped and unusable. Then we visit a historic high school that is now dormant due to the expense of asbestos remediation. Read the full description.

20080614ho_next_schoolfront_500_small Asbestos was once heralded as the ideal building material—light, cheap, and heat resistant—until the health hazards of inhaling it were discovered. By then asbestos could be found in homes, schools, and buildings all over the country. On this episode of Distillations we look at how two Pennsylvania towns are coping with the economic burden of remediating areas contaminated by asbestos. First CHF's Bob Kenworthy explains how Ambler residents have fought to contain the asbestos-laden land left behind by a shuttered manufacturing plant. Then producer Larkin Page-Jacobs visits a Pittsburgh high school that was once an architectural marvel and now sits abandoned due to asbestos. 

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Piece Description

Asbestos was once heralded as the ideal building material—light, cheap, and heat resistant—until the health hazards of inhaling it were discovered. By then asbestos could be found in homes, schools, and buildings all over the country. On this episode of Distillations we look at how two Pennsylvania towns are coping with the economic burden of remediating areas contaminated by asbestos. First CHF's Bob Kenworthy explains how Ambler residents have fought to contain the asbestos-laden land left behind by a shuttered manufacturing plant. Then producer Larkin Page-Jacobs visits a Pittsburgh high school that was once an architectural marvel and now sits abandoned due to asbestos. 

Broadcast History

Podcast on April 13, 2012.

Timing and Cues

0:00 Opening Credits
0:32 Introduction
1:53 The Ambler Asbestos Waste Piles
5:33 Schenley High School
13:22 Closing Credits

Additional Credits

Special thanks to Bob Kenworthy for researching this show.

Our theme music is composed by Dave Kaufman. Music from the Free Music Archive includes "Banjo Arba Minch Garden," by Cooper-Moore, "Pretty Little Dog," by Shake That Little Foot, and "Live at Festival of Endless Gratitude," by James Blackshaw. Thanks also to the Library of Congress for providing music for "The Globe Trot," by Victor Military Band.

Related Website

http://www.chemheritage.org/discover/media/distillations/index.aspx