A recent investigation revealed high levels of asbestos in several Philadelphia schools, leading to raised concerns over the safety of students and staff. Asbestos can cause deadly respiratory conditions, including mesothelioma, and students, teachers, and visitors to the schools may have suffered repeated exposure for years. It is up to the city to safely remove the asbestos, but so far, officials have shown no urgency to act.
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring fiber that was used extensively in construction up until the 1980s, when it was widely understood to be a carcinogen. When asbestos fibers are disturbed and become airborne, its needle-like fibers can be inhaled and become lodged in the chest cavity. They can remain there for decades before any symptoms appear; by then, it is often too late to treat. Mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer caused by asbestos exposure, is resistant to many common cancer therapies and leaves patients with a short life expectancy.
Philadelphia Newspapers Examined Dangerous Substances in Schools
The investigation was a joint effort by The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Daily News. Teachers from 11 Philadelphia schools took dust wipe samples and sent them to International Asbestos Testing Laboratories in South Jersey. The levels of asbestos were dangerously high, well above the benchmark of 100,000 fibers per square centimeter that health experts say is cause for concern. Some of the locations showed fiber counts in the millions. The areas tested in the schools include hallways, classrooms, and gyms where students frequently spend time and may have been repeatedly exposed to asbestos.
Investigators also looked at school district records from the last five years, many of which identify asbestos as an issue. Despite multiple locations being identified as high priority, they have not undergone a thorough asbestos removal. In fact, some locations showed even higher levels of airborne asbestos after substandard attempts to remove it. Asbestos abatement is a delicate process that requires specific equipment and techniques, and cutting corners can actually make the situation worse.
More Action Needed from School District
School district officials have taken issue with the investigation, saying that dust wipe tests are far less accurate than air quality tests and may misrepresent the state of the schools. Many experts disagree, however, saying that dust wipe tests are a useful tool in identifying asbestos problems. The district has taken action to address asbestos levels at Olney Elementary School, sealing off some areas and relocating student activities to limit exposure. Other schools have yet to see any action, however, leaving students and faculty at dozens of other Philadelphia schools in danger.
Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at Shein Law Advocate for Victims of Asbestos Exposure
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related disease, call the mesothelioma lawyers at Shein Law. We will thoroughly review the facts of your case to determine who is responsible for your asbestos exposure and work to recover the compensation to which you are entitled. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, we help asbestos exposure victims and their families throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call us today at 1-877-SHEINLAW (743-4652) or contact us online to discuss your case with a dedicated Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyer.