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Philadelphia Federation Of Teachers Proposes $100 Million Cleanup Of Asbestos, Mold And Lead In More Than 175 Schools

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- New pictures from inside a Philadelphia elementary school show possible sources of asbestos. The teachers' union recently announced an educator at a different school was diagnosed with cancer tied to asbestos.

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A new plan of action will cost at least $100 million to clear out the asbestos, mold and lead.

"The major risks associated with asbestos exposure are cancers like lung cancer," said Jerry Roseman, an environmental scientist for the PFT Health & Welfare Fund.

The School District of Philadelphia has a problem: asbestos, lead and mold.

That's why the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers is proposing a solution.

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"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," Roseman said.

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," Roseman said.

This is a program that has been in the works for years now. More than 175 schools are dealing with damaged asbestos.

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Credit: CBS3

The plan would cost $100 million and would take about three to five years to remove all the asbestos.

A teacher who spent a large part of her 30-year career teaching at William M. Meredith School was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer associated with exposure to asbestos.

"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," Roseman said.

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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," Roseman said.

The school district issued a statement Wednesday that read in part:

"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 goes on to say that after they review the plan, they will be able to comment on it at Thursday's school board meeting.

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