Philadelphia Congressmen Call on House Leaders to Help Eliminate Crumbling Asbestos from City Schools
It is estimated that close to half of all schools in the U.S. were built between 1950 and 1969. During this time, asbestos was widely used in construction materials such as roofing and siding, shingles, pipe and boiler insulation, and floor and ceiling tiles. Because asbestos was used so often in construction, this dangerous mineral still lurks in many schools across the country.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), intact, undisturbed asbestos-containing materials (ACM) generally do not pose a health risk. However, ACM’s are a problem when they deteriorate or are disturbed (e.g., during renovation) and asbestos fibers get in the air and are inhaled by building occupants. This is what Philadelphia’s city schools, parents and children are facing as many schools are suffering from deteriorating asbestos, mold, and even peeling lead paint.
Philadelphia Congressmen Brendan Boyle, Dwight Evans, and Bob Brady have called on House leaders to do something about it. In response to the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News (Philly.com) series “Toxic City: Sick Schools,” which detailed the conditions and the sometimes devastating health consequences for schoolchildren, Boyle said, “the conditions detailed in the Philadelphia Inquirer are nothing short of unconscionable and unacceptable in the United States of America.”
“It is entirely unacceptable for our students to be expected to succeed in classrooms that are crumbling right before their very eyes,” Evans said. Brady added, “Philadelphia needs aggressive federal support. In spite of best efforts, local and state tax revenues are not adequate.”
According to Philly.com, the trio urged House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Speaker Paul Ryan “to include money for school buildings in any infrastructure program considered in Congress.”
“It is clear that public schools play an important role in the physical and cognitive development of our nation’s children; however, despite their importance, inadequate funding has led to outdated and unsafe school buildings,” the three wrote. “While the responsibility for school buildings has historically fallen on local school boards and their taxpayers, the problems have risen to a level that we cannot ignore or brush off as merely a local problem.”
In response to the letter by the Congressmen, a district spokesperson agreed that Philadelphia’s city schools “have inadequate funding.” The spokesperson said, “we are very grateful” that the Congressmen “are advocating on our behalf in Washington, D.C.”
If you have been exposed to asbestos, please see your doctor right away. Even brief exposures to asbestos could lead to asbestos-related disease such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Talk to you doctor today.
“Asbestos Concerns During Renovations for a Healthy School Environment.” EPA.gov. United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 10 Jan 2018. Web. 10 July 2018.
Tamari, Jonathan and Kristin A. Graham, “Philly congressmen seek federal help to fix 'unconscionable' condition of city schools.” Philly.com. Philadelphia Media Network (Digital), LLC, 01 June 2018. Web. 10 July 2018.