After reports of a Philadelphia teacher being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer that is linked to asbestos exposure, the local Teacher's Union is now taking steps and recently proposed to clear out asbestos, mold, and lead in schools. This project is predicted to have a budget of $100 million.

Jerry Roseman, a local environmental scientist for the PFT Health & Welfare Fund, commented that there are major risks associated with asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma is not only cancer linked to asbestos exposure. Other cancers linked to it include lung cancer. Roseman stated,

“We’re proposing an upgraded assessment and evaluation of where all this material is so we can identify all of it for sure and for certain. After the assessment, the high-risk areas will be identified, stabilized and cleaned. Lastly that there is a long-term plan to remove all of them from all schools as quickly as possible."

This program is said to have been in the works for many years. It is reported that more than 175 schools in Philadelphia are found to have damaged asbestos, which is more dangerous due to the fumes it emits. This is a three to five-year plan.

Roseman continued, “We have 130,000 or so students. You have another 20,000 employees, you have parents, siblings and others walking into schools. When you have a quarter of a million people who are exposed, even low risks it can cause a lot of harm. That’s a risk PFT is working to eliminate. We’re also recommending that the district work with us, and work closely to look at how to better spend the money that we do have."

In a statement issued by the school district last Wednesday, they've reported that

“Today, District staff met with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers for several hours on a joint approach to address environmental conditions in schools, which mirrors what was released by the PFT. This is the first we are seeing this plan and look forward to reviewing it.”

The district is reviewing the plan and will give a comment after Thursday's school board meeting.