Asbestos Hazards in Schools

The Hazard Assessments for Asbestos in Schools Initiative

Asbestos exposure on a daily basis can put children and school staff at increased risk for cancer later in life.

We recognize that it is difficult for parents to assess the asbestos hazard in schools by themselves. Our Center, working with the Philadelphia Health Schools Initiative, has reviewed available reports to make these assessments on your behalf. We looked at:

  • whether there is asbestos;
  • its location;
  • was it damaged; and
  • was it mitigated.

We are not doing school inspections ourselves. We are relying on publicly available reports from the School District of Philadelphia.

In partnership with the Philadelphia Healthy Schools Initiative, our Center uses federally required Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) reports on the condition of asbestos in each school and analyzes whether asbestos poses a  hazard.

Hazard Assessment for Asbestos

Using the AHERA reports, we are designing school specific communication materials for parents and staff beginning in elementary and middle schools in the most environmentally vulnerable neighborhoods in Philadelphia. This program is expected to help clarify where there are, and are not, significant risks to human health.

Philly Healthy Schools Initiative Logo

What can you do to improve asbestos conditions in your school?

Attend a meeting explaining your schools report. View our calendar of events below.

  1. Report any leaks, missing or warped ceiling tiles, damaged pipe insulation, damaged floor tiles, mold, and any other damaged materials in schools by taking photos and uploading them to the Philadelphia Healthy Schools App. Reports will get back to the School District and be worked on.
  2. Ask the Philadelphia School District for more information and updates on damaged asbestos containing materials that have not been remediated.


Upcoming Community Events

  • May 28 -  4 PM. Eliza B. Kirkbride Report Meeting

Available Reports

Our Center used publicly available AHERA reports and SDP asbestos notification of work forms to evaluate your school. The reports are produced on a rolling schedule. To be alerted when your school's report is launched, complete the form below.

Asbestos Containing Materials Commonly Found in Schools

Pipe Insulation



Significantly Damaged




Significantly damaged

Other Examples

Thermal Insulation - Damaged

Sprayed on Fireproofing - Damaged

Floor Tiles - Undamaged

Understanding our Asbestos Hazards Reports

We first determined where all of the asbestos containing materials (ACM) were found in the school and then whether ACM were damaged. Damaged ACM have the potential of releasing harmful asbestos fibers into the air; therefore, we consider those differently than undamaged ACM that do not release fibers.

Then we investigated a material’s friability. According to the EPA, friable materials are ones that can be crumbled or reduced to a powder by hand pressure. Friable materials have the potential to release far more asbestos fibers into the air than non-friable materials. If a friable material is damaged and located in an area that is routinely occupied by people (like a classroom, gym or hallway), it should be remediated immediately.

Non-friable ACM do not readily release fibers into the air. However, when they have greater than 10% damage, they can release fibers, so require immediate action.

For undamaged ACM, we recommend frequent monitoring for damage of all friable materials and non-friable materials that are in commonly used spaces in the school. Preventative maintenance is the only way to ensure children and staff are not exposed to asbestos fibers. See Our Methodology below for a graphic illustration of our hazard assessment of ACM.

Duct Insulation Transite windowsill and all other transite materials
Boiler insulation Vibration Damper Cloth
Boiler breeching Boiler rope
Tank insulation Floor Tile (all types)
Pipe fitting insulation Mastic (all types)
Pipe insulation (all types) Expansion seam caulking
Plaster walls and ceilings (all types) Heat shield insulation
Paint Concrete (ceilings, walls & floors)
Joint Compound Block (CMU) walls
Glazing/Glazing compound Mortar
Caulk Brick
Sheet Rock Insulation Board
Spray on Acoustical Ceiling material Gasket
Wire wrap Stage Curtains
Fire blankets
Light fixture reflection paper

Our Methodology

Click the images above for a larger view in a new window.

To review our process for creating a report, click here. (.pdf)

For additional health information, download the CDC Asbestos and Health Fact Sheet (.pdf)


City of Philadelphia’s Asbestos Control Regulation

The City of Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health established regulations that standardized procedures for the remediation of asbestos containing materials (removal, enclosure or encapsulation). All work that disrupts ACM within the School District of Philadelphia follows these standards. This document contains helpful definitions of terms related to asbestos remediation and has information related to reporting and permitting requirements for work with asbestos.


Get Alerted about When Your School's Report is Released


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