The Issues

Schools are places where our kids go to learn, achieve, build lifelong friendships, and grow up to be productive citizens in society. They are also the place where our kids spend most of their waking hours.

Unfortunately, there’s growing evidence that our school buildings are plagued with environmental health threats, from potential exposure to lead paint and lead in drinking water, to asbestos, to common asthma triggers like mold.

Numerous studies have shown that these threats don’t only result in adverse health impacts to students and staff, but also compromise student learning and achievement, increase absenteeism, and cause skyrocketing costs to already cash-strapped schools.

  • School officials believe that nearly 100% of the paint in school buildings constructed prior to 1978 remain lead-based paints, and lead levels in Philadelphia’s children is double the national average
  • 15% of recent water samples taken from Philly public schools had lead levels higher than the federal standards for home tap water
  • Asbestos, a known carcinogen, is pervasive in schools’ pipe and heating insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, and other products commonly found in our schools. 
These conditions put the health of our kids, teachers, principals and maintenance workers at risk.

We need to protect our kids’ health

All of our schools should be healthy and safe for our children, teachers, school workers, and community members. 
Yet, incredibly, even the most basic standards to protect our kids and teachers from environmental health risks in school buildings are almost non-existent at the federal, state, local level. 
This has got to change.

Philly Healthy Schools Initiative

Philly Healthy Schools Initiative’s mission is to take immediate, ongoing, and much needed action to address the threat of dangerous conditions in Philadelphia’s public school buildings and grounds.

Philly Healthy Schools Initiative brings together parents, teachers, principals, students, community members, and public health experts from Philadelphia and around the country to develop a plan to address the environmental health threats found in our school buildings.