Before the 1980s, most American schools were constructed with some type of asbestos, used for insulation, ceiling tiles, vinyl flooring and wallboard, and duct work. At least 11 of Philadelphia’s elementary schools have high levels of asbestos fibers in various parts of the buildings, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims that if the asbestos materials are undisturbed, they pose little risk to students or teachers. The problem is that aging buildings require maintenance and upgrades, and the resulting dust from such work may become a serious hazard to anyone breathing it in.
Then there are situations like in Philadelphia, where the buildings are deteriorating, and asbestos fibers are found throughout the property.
Philadelphia last conducted a complete asbestos inspection of its schools in 2015-16. At that time, over 80 percent of the city’s schools had some asbestos damage, with more than 2,000 locations pinpointed. Damaged asbestos floor tiles appear to be the worst culprit. For the 2017-18 school year, Philadelphia had $5 million in its budget for asbestos repair and remediation for schools.
In the Philadelphia Inquirer investigative report, it was noted that the highest levels of asbestos were found outside of a classroom near an insulated pipe where remediation was recently completed. Other areas with high levels of asbestos included gymnasiums, hallways, auditoriums, and the classrooms. In other words, children and teachers are potentially exposed to asbestos throughout the school day.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of lung cancer, primarily contracted by those exposed to asbestos. When asbestos fibers break off from damaged or repaired materials, students and teachers may inhale them.
In the past, miners were the occupation with the highest levels of mesothelioma. But teachers are also near the top of the list of jobs with the most asbestos exposure and subsequent cases of mesothelioma. The EPA conducted a risk assessment study 30-odd years ago, finding that 1,000 premature deaths would occur due to asbestos exposure over the next 30 years. The study concluded the majority of those deaths would occur in the kids who had been exposed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that up to 2,800 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the U.S. annually. The cancer usually appears in the lungs, but it may also originate in the lining of the abdomen, or less often, in the lining of the heart. The disease has no cure.
Initial symptoms of the disease include:
Caught in the early stages, before it has spread to other parts of the body, mesothelioma is treatable with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. If diagnosed in the later stages, after the cancer has metastasized, patients are offered palliative care, as there are no successful options for treatment.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma after asbestos exposure, you need the services of the experienced Mesothelioma Lawyers in Philadelphia at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler. To set up a free initial consultation, complete our online form or call us at 800-369-0899 today.