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Our Philadelphia Mesothelioma Attorneys at Shein Law Obtain Compensation for School Asbestos Illness Victims

What Should I Do if I Worked in a School With Asbestos?

Asbestos exposure is linked to deadly diseases, including mesothelioma, a rare, incurable, and aggressive cancer infecting the lining of the lungs and chest cavity. Older buildings, including many Philadelphia schools, still contain asbestos. School employees and students must understand the risks of asbestos exposure and be on the lookout for warning signs of asbestos diseases.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was once used extensively in construction. It is versatile, durable, and heat- and flame-resistant, making it an ideal additive for construction materials. Since the link between asbestos and deadly disease became widely understood, the use of asbestos in construction has ceased, but buildings constructed before the 1980s likely still contain some asbestos products. About 90 percent of schools were built before 1985, including those in Philadelphia and the surrounding districts. Philadelphia schools have come under fire for asbestos mismanagement in recent years, resulting in school closures and a lawsuit by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers against the school district.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates dangerous substances, including asbestos. It has specific regulations for asbestos in schools. According to the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), all public school districts and non-profit schools must undergo regular inspections for asbestos hazards and have a management plan to protect students and staff from exposure. The plan must include procedures for handling asbestos found in the building, detailed record-keeping, and communicating potential risks to the public. All inspections and asbestos work must be conducted by accredited asbestos professionals.

Notably, the AHERA does not require schools to remove asbestos unless it is severely deteriorated; federal policy mandates that schools manage the asbestos in place to minimize exposure. Asbestos is not dangerous when left alone, but when asbestos becomes damaged or disturbed, it can release asbestos dust into the air, where it can be inhaled or ingested. This can occur from demolition, renovation, maintenance, or normal wear and tear, which is common in older buildings. State and local governments may have additional requirements for managing asbestos in schools.

Asbestos Disease Risks for School Staff

School staff generally face a higher risk than students. Teachers and administrative staff may spend a large portion of their careers working at one school, resulting in repeated, long-term exposure to asbestos in the building. Maintenance staff at schools may also face an elevated risk.

If you worked or work in an older school, let your physician know about your potential asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma has a long latency period, as it can take 10 to 50 years after the initial exposure for tumors to form. Once they do, however, the disease can move quickly, so early diagnosis is important. Giving your doctor your history can help if symptoms start to appear.

Schools must disclose asbestos risks, and staff should be aware of it in their building. Administrative staff should be able to provide you with updates from the most recent school inspection. If you suspect that asbestos is not being handled correctly in your school, your union representative may be able to help address the situation and ensure that you are working in a safe environment. You should contact a lawyer for legal assistance if you have been diagnosed with an asbestos disease such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.

Our Philadelphia Mesothelioma Attorneys at Shein Law Obtain Compensation for School Asbestos Illness Victims

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos disease from exposure in a school, talk to our Philadelphia mesothelioma attorneys at Shein Law. Call us at 877-743-4652 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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