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June 29, 2018

Wolf, Philly officials pledge $15.6 million to remove lead, mold, asbestos at schools

Schools Public Health
Stock_Carroll - The School District of Philadelphia Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

The School District of Philadelphia on North Broad Street.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and several other city officials revealed Friday that 57 local school buildings will receive $15.6 million to remove lead, mold and asbestos in the months ahead.

The announcement was made at a press conference at Roosevelt Elementary School in the East Germantown section of Philadelphia.

“The safety of our children should always be a priority and our schools must be healthy environments where students and teachers can focus on learning and building bright futures,” said Governor Wolf. “The combination of this state and district funding will make the classrooms and hallways safer at dozens of schools and improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in the city.”

Pennsylvania will cover $7.6 million for lead paint remediation at 40 schools in the city, while the remaining $8 million will come from the school district for lead paint, mold and asbestos removal.

Nearly 90 percent of Philadelphia's school buildings were constructed prior to 1978, when the federal government banned lead paint in residential properties. Contaminated dust from lead paint is one of the primary causes of lead poisoning, particularly in young children who are at higher risk of exposure.

Philadelphia officials have increasingly sought to prevent childhood lead exposure, which can contribute to the development of behavioral issues and intellectual disabilities if left untreated. 

“I have been a lead poisoning prevention and awareness advocate for years, but I didn’t think I would ever experience it first-hand,” said state Rep. Donna Bullock. “Several years ago, my youngest son was tested and found to have had lead in his blood. Luckily, it was caught early, and he was able to get treatment. I cannot stress enough the importance of testing our children early. I’m glad to see that we are taking a proactive approach to tackle this epidemic and protect our children.”

Schools Superintendent Dr. William H. Hite thanked Wolf and said he looked forward to improvements at buildings across the city.

“The health and safety of our students is critical. No matter where they live, our children deserve to learn in vibrant spaces that are welcoming and modernized," said Hite. "We are excited to be able to accelerate our previously planned summer work so that we can make the major renovations and improvements that will best serve our school communities.”