Philly Schools Block a Federal Study After Health Risks Are Exposed

"The crisis-wracked School District of Philadelphia has quietly abandoned a federal agency’s plans for further study of environmental-health risks in its aging school buildings. An initial review found pervasive dampness, mold or water damage — conditions that may aggravate asthma and other respiratory ailments — but the District has refused to make the complete findings public.

The limited results obtained by City Paper raise questions, including at Bryant Elementary School in West Philadelphia, where a visual inspection conducted during the first study found signs of water-related deterioration in 95.2 percent of the school’s rooms. Bryant was where a sixth-grade girl, Laporshia Massey, suffered what her father described as an asthma attack last fall when no nurse was on duty, and died later that day.

In fact, Bryant had the greatest prevalence of such conditions among 36 schools described in a summary dated March 20, 2012. Of that group of school buildings, more than 60 percent— 23 schools — had dampness, mold or water damage in more than a third of their rooms. A far smaller number of rooms were cited only for mold or mold odor."

Daniel Denvir reports for the Philadelphia City Paper May 8, 2014.

Friday, May 9, 2014