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Group Hired To Inspect for Asbestos

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Baltimore--City and school officials here have signed a contract with the White Lung Association to assist in a program to remove asbestos from the city's public schools.

Under the agreement--announced earlier this month by Mayor William Donald Schaefer--James Fite, the executive director of the national nonprofit group that represents asbestos victims, will act as an adviser to the city schools' assistant superintendent for physical plants.

It marks the first time that the Baltimore-based national organization has signed a contract to help plan the removal of the carcinogen from a school system's buildings. In recent months, the group had publicized asbestos problems in Baltimore schools that previously had gone unreported.

White Lung, which will receive $14,000 over a six-month period, is to assist in finding money to pay for the removal of the cancer-causing asbestos, which officials estimate could run between $35 million and $50 million. The group also will evaluate the contractors who will be used in the abatement efforts.

Officials estimate that about 100 to 130 of the system's 184 schools have asbestos.

Mr. Fite said his organization will solicit contributions from Baltimore citizens to help finance the removal. He added that the possibility of a lawsuit against the asbestos manufacturers to recover abatement costs has not been ruled out.

The school system has already spent approximately $2 million on abatement efforts.

--Becky Todd York

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