University of Pennsylvania Steps Up In Face of School Mesothelioma Risk

In a remarkable show of philanthropy, the University of Pennsylvania has announced it will be giving $100 million to the School District of Philadelphia to remove the asbestos that has already caused mesothelioma in one of its teachers.  Asbestos and other environmental toxins have raised fears of disease in faculty, staff and students alike. With today’s announcement, Penn President Amy Gutmann hopes to make a significant difference in the health and wellbeing of the city as well as the school district.

Philadelphia Schools Closed by Discovery of Asbestos

Prior to the school closures forced by the arrival of the global pandemic, a beloved teacher was diagnosed with mesothelioma and the Philadelphia school district was facing an environmental crisis. Schools were being shut down by discoveries of asbestos on a weekly basis, as many of the city’s aging buildings had never undergone the asbestos remediation that was needed. 

The donation is coming from a discretionary fund that is under the control of the Penn president, who said, “Nothing is more important than the health and welfare of our children, and few things are more crucial to a community than the safety and quality of its public school. We are proud to be able to partner with our City and School District to significantly improve the learning environment for Philadelphia’s schoolchildren in a way that will have a long-lasting impact on the health, safety, and wellbeing of our entire City.”

Asbestos Abatement Project Is Costly, But Only Way to Prevent Mesothelioma

Throughout the nation, fears of malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases are particularly high among schoolteachers and other educational staff. Many are working in buildings constructed with asbestos long before it was identified as a carcinogenic substance. Though many of these structures have already undergone remediation and regulations require regular inspection inspections, the cost of removing asbestos is extremely high, and remediation projects are frequently delayed, postponed, or forgotten.

In the city of Philadelphia, the estimated cost to clean asbestos and lead from all of the school buildings is $125 million. $23 million has been spent since 2018, and another $41 million was approved within the district’s budget at the start of 2020.

Though mesothelioma is traditionally viewed as an occupational disease impacting men working in high heat work environments, educators are increasingly being diagnosed with it and other asbestos-related diseases. For information on how asbestos might impact you, contact the Patient Advocates at today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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