News

Asbestos In Schools

Posted on 28th June, 2016

Asbestos is still present in the majority of schools throughout the UK. Virtually all schools built between 1950 and as late as 2000 were built using asbestos containing materials. It is a pretty scary fact considering most of our employees have children who are school age.

There are 3000 new cases of mesothelioma every year, the asbestos causing lung cancer which has no cure. Many of these cases are teachers and school children exposed to asbestos in schools which were built when asbestos use was at its peak. Mesothelioma is a disease which doesn’t usually affect an individual until later in life, is a slow developing disease with cases continuing to rise from asbestos exposure 30 or 40 years ago.

Small actions such as sticking drawing pins into walls, slamming doors or removing or dislodging ceiling tiles can release asbestos fibres into the air. A lot of schools built in the 1960’s or 70’s have warm air heating units, many of which are lined with asbestos. The risk is that fibres are being blown into the classrooms and being inhaled by teachers and children.

Whilst we accept that most schools act in accordance with the controls of Asbestos regulations2012 in the workplace and have suitable control measures in place to reduce the risk of these deadly fibres being inhaled, we agree whole heartedly that action needs to be taken to eliminate the worst types of asbestos from schools throughout the UK.

It would be fair to say that it would be impossible to remove all asbestos from a school without completely demolishing the building, however any asbestos for example AIB liners in heater cupboards, asbestos ceiling tiles and other asbestos likely to be disturbed during normal use of the building should be removed.

There are many laws and regulations that building owners need to comply with surrounding asbestos within buildings, and at present any asbestos that is deemed safe and manageable can remain in situ. The solution could be tighter reinforcement of these regulations would ensure that the only remaining asbestos within schools would be the asbestos which will not get damaged during normal use of the building?

There are several campaigns that are trying to persuade the government to change its policies towards asbestos in schools, putting in place the safe, planned removal of asbestos containing materials as soon as reasonably practicable.

As rates of death form mesothelioma continue to rise we support the campaigns to remove asbestos from schools to protect our school children and teachers from potentially future health problems.

Sources:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3651420/Why-asbestos-schools-deadly-danger-children-60-000-deaths-estimated-30-years.html

http://www.schoolasbestosaction.co.uk/

http://www.asbestosexposureschools.co.uk/

If you'd like more information about this news item please contact Emma Costello at NIC

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