Asbestos was once touted as a miracle fiber that provided roofs over homes, supply lines for water, and brakes for automobiles. Many considered a cure for a variety of construction and consumer product ills.
Today, the carcinogen is known primarily for the “ills” with exposure causing deadly lung diseases and mesothelioma.
After long summer breaks, new and veteran teachers look forward to returning to their buildings to start the new school year. However, many of those older schools are barely inhabitable due to the presence of asbestos. In the City of Brotherly Love, a union is taking a stand after the tragic diagnosis of one of their teachers.
The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers is demanding that the administration invest $100 million to remove asbestos in buildings throughout the city. Tragically, for one veteran educator, the abatement efforts may be too little and too late after being diagnosed with mesothelioma caused by exposure to the toxic compound.
The union is alleging the presence of asbestos in approximately 150 schools throughout the district with many teachers observing and disturbed asbestos. They also announced a pending partnership with professionals in the environmental science and medical industries to identify and investigate possible cancer clusters.
The Philadelphia School District cites biannual inspections in school buildings and ongoing asbestos awareness training for engineering staff. Their budget for 2019 called for $21 million in abatement efforts. The past summer saw nearly 30 removal projects.
The stakes are high. The dangers transcend teachers, administrators, and support staff. Students who attend school anywhere in Philadelphia run the risk of exposure as well.