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The Senate Public Works Committee approved a plan Tuesday to double federal aid to schools for removal of cancer-causing asbestos and backed legislation cracking down on U.S. coastal water pollution.

The asbestos measure, sent to the Senate floor, reauthorizes the 1984 Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Act and calls for an increase in federal funds to schools for cleanup from $125 million to $250 million per year.The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., who said as many as 15 million children and 1.5 million school employees are exposed to asbestos each school day. Exposure to asbestos, formerly used in the construction of thousands of buildings for insulation, can cause a variety of cancers, including lung cancer.

Since 1984, $200 million has been provided by the government for school asbestos cleanup, although Lautenberg said the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that $3 billion will be needed to remove asbestos from all the nation's schools.