An environmentalist in the Cook Islands says it is very worrying that a primary school has been found with a potentially hazardous level of asbestos.
A New Zealand-based air quality testing company K2 Environmental Limited says Avarua School on Rarotonga has been placed in the red category for its high level of asbestos and a risk of exposure to the substance.
According to Cook Islands news, 11 locations on Rarotonga were tested, and of these, another school, Avatea, the community dental clinic and the Meteorological Service offices will be investigated further after showing some asbestos contamination.
Environmentalist Edward Saul says it is likely asbestos from old roofing material has made its way into the soil and this becomes hazardous when it is airborne.
"Well I would think that stripping off the top soil around the buildings to a certain distance away would be the obvious solution. And since the school's closed until the beginning of February, they've got a window of opportunity to do it."
Edward Saul says an alternative solution would be to keep the soil damp to prevent asbestos from floating into the air.