People who are familiar with malignant mesothelioma as an occupational illness tend to think of factory and construction workers as those most likely to be diagnosed with the rare and fatal disease. But despite the image of structural integrity and safety evoked by the view of a school building, teachers rank high on the list of those most at risk for asbestos-related diseases. The reason is simple: most of the nation’s schools were constructed prior to the 1980s, when asbestos was a common structural component. Now teachers all around the nation are being diagnosed with mesothelioma, and there is a growing public outcry for something to be done.
The most recent example of the mesothelioma risk to teachers was announced this week in Philadelphia, where a longtime city education in the Philadelphia School District was diagnosed with the disease. The educator currently works at Meredith Elementary in South Philadelphia, which was flagged in 2015 as a high priority school for asbestos removal, and had previously worked at Nebinger Elementary, which was one of seven identified as needing emergency asbestos cleanup by the district last year.
The city’s schools were the subject of an investigation by the Philadelphia Inquirer which was titled ‘Toxic City’, which examined the risk to both teachers and children arising from environmental contaminants in Philadelphia’s classrooms. High levels of asbestos dust were found in several of the city’s schools, and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers says that there are 175 school buildings in the city that are in need of asbestos remediation. Union president Jerry Jordan said, “This is a systemic issue with urgent needs that we must address. Disturbed asbestos has been observed and reported at schools across the district. The students and educators are literally risking death whenever they go to school — that is a shocking, shocking thing.”
In addition to concerns from the teachers’ union, parents of children attending the schools are also concerned that their children might be at risk for mesothelioma. They are looking for more information and supporting their teachers and state and local lawmakers in their request of $100 million in asbestos remediation money and action.
Concerns over mesothelioma risk are especially understandable if you or someone you love has been diagnosed with the rare and fatal disease. For information about the resources and help available to you, contact us today at 1-800-966-2244.