Asbestos Concerns Persist in Pennsylvania Schools, Beyond Philadelphia

PENNSYLVANIA – In recent years, concerns over asbestos exposure in schools have raised alarm bells across Pennsylvania. While the focus has often been on the plight of schools in Philadelphia, it is crucial to shed light on the wider issue of asbestos in educational institutions throughout the state. Asbestos, a known carcinogen, poses a significant health risk when disturbed, causing serious respiratory illnesses and even cancer. This article explores recent examples of asbestos-related incidents in schools outside of Philadelphia, highlighting the urgent need for comprehensive action and increased awareness.

School Closures and Disruptions

Pittsburgh Public Schools:

In 2022, two elementary schools in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, were forced to close due to asbestos contamination. Both Woolslair and Faison Elementary schools were found to have deteriorating asbestos-containing materials, prompting immediate closures and relocation of students and staff. The incidents caused disruption to the affected school communities and raised concerns about the overall safety of school facilities.

Scranton School District:

The Scranton School District faced a significant asbestos problem in recent years. In 2019, West Scranton High School was closed for over a month due to asbestos removal. The closure disrupted the education of hundreds of students and underscored the urgency of addressing the issue in schools across the state. Unfortunately, Scranton’s struggle with asbestos continued, with ongoing remediation efforts required in multiple schools, further illustrating the persistent nature of the problem.

Harrisburg School District:

In 2023, Harrisburg High School in the Harrisburg School District was temporarily closed due to asbestos concerns. The discovery of damaged asbestos insulation during a construction project led to the closure, affecting students’ education and creating a sense of unease among the school community. The incident highlighted the need for proactive asbestos management protocols during renovation and construction activities in educational institutions.

Legal and Regulatory Framework

Despite the evident risks associated with asbestos exposure, Pennsylvania’s legal and regulatory framework has faced criticism for not adequately addressing the issue. The state’s current regulations primarily focus on asbestos abatement during demolition or renovation projects, rather than ongoing monitoring and prevention in school buildings. This regulatory gap leaves students, teachers, and staff vulnerable to potential asbestos exposure in aging educational facilities.

Addressing the Challenge

Enhanced Funding and Resources:

To effectively tackle the asbestos issue in schools, Pennsylvania must allocate increased funding and resources to ensure thorough inspections, testing, and proactive maintenance of school buildings. This includes training personnel to identify asbestos hazards, conducting regular assessments, and implementing appropriate management strategies.

Comprehensive Legislation:

The Pennsylvania State Legislature should prioritize comprehensive legislation that specifically addresses asbestos management in schools. This legislation should mandate regular inspections, establish clear protocols for handling asbestos-containing materials, and ensure proper training for staff responsible for maintaining school facilities.

Public Awareness and Engagement:

Raising public awareness about the risks of asbestos exposure is crucial. Parents, teachers, and community members must actively engage in the dialogue surrounding asbestos in schools, advocating for improved safety measures and transparency from educational institutions and the state government.


Asbestos exposure remains a pressing concern in schools across Pennsylvania, extending beyond the boundaries of Philadelphia. Recent incidents of school closures and ongoing remediation efforts highlight the urgent need for comprehensive action to ensure the safety of students, teachers, and staff. By prioritizing increased funding, comprehensive legislation, and public engagement, Pennsylvania can take significant strides toward mitigating the risks associated with asbestos exposure in its educational institutions. Only through collective efforts can we guarantee a safe and healthy learning environment for all students across the state.

Should you know someone who has been exposed to asbestos and diagnosed with an asbestos related disease such as mesothelioma, the Halpern Law Firm is here to help. Specifically dealing with mesothelioma cases, the Halpern Law Firm has helped thousands of victims exposed to asbestos, with settlements and verdicts totaling over $100 million. Call 800-505-6000 for a free case evaluation today!

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