A special education instructor from Meredith Elementary in Philadelphia was diagnosed with mesothelioma recently, and it is setting off alarms throughout the district. The School District of Philadelphia had a press conference to discuss this topic. It was stated that 29 of their schools had asbestos reduction programs this past summer, but not Meredith Elementary. The majority of the 220 district schools are more than 70 years old, and it is not clear how many have asbestos or lead.
The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) labor union is asking for $100 million to remove these materials from the buildings, as mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure. For now, there is no confirmed link between the teacher’s mesothelioma and where she taught.
Over the past three years, the district has completed over 1,600 asbestos remediation and lead paint repairs, and it was reported they had set aside $20 million just for this fiscal year. The teachers union emphasized a critical need for funds to fix their aging school buildings, most of which were constructed before 1980. District officials agreed.
Philadelphia Federation of Teachers’ health and welfare fund’s director of environmental science said that the problem is widespread, and that asbestos materials are in about 175 buildings. The district’s Chief Operating Officer said that the schools are safe for now, and that there is a team in place working to resolve the issue.
The union and politicians are focusing efforts on getting the $100 million from the state and city for remediation and named the coalition Fund Our Facilities. The PFT President said that educators, as well as students, are risking their own lives when going to school.
From 1999 through 2017, approximately 50,000 people in this country lost their lives to mesothelioma, and there are about 3,000 cases diagnosed each year. After California and Florida, Pennsylvania had the third-highest number of deaths reported. Most patients that are diagnosed have a poor prognosis and die within five years. Almost all mesothelioma cases are linked directly to asbestos.
Asbestos was commonly used in construction materials in the past, so construction workers have the highest risk. Other high-risk jobs include petroleum refining, shipbuilding, mechanical engineering, and teaching. Older schools that have broken tiles and exposed pipes can have areas where asbestos fibers are released into the air. Philadelphia AFL-CIO President said that it is hard to predict how the exposure might affect students, since it can take decades for the mesothelioma to show up.
Asbestos exposure can cause serious medical issues, and the experienced Philadelphia asbestos lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler can help you and your family obtain the compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, complete an online form or call us at 215-569-4000. Our Philadelphia office serves clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia County.