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The Reality Of Asbestos In UK Schools

It’s a well known fact that asbestos is a killer, however it’s usually those who previously worked in construction roles who are thought to be at the highest risk of contracting diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer or pleural thickening. Each year, thousands of people in the UK lose their lives to an asbestos-related disease and, as you’d expect, it’s something which we believe shouldn’t be the case. Prior to the banning of asbestos once and for all in 1999, many employers across the UK acted negligently towards their employees, failing to protect them from breathing in the fibres of this deadly material and whilst nothing can unfortunately be done to turn back time and change things for those who are already suffering or who have passed away from one of these deadly diseases, something can be done to protect those who are still at risk.

Despite legislation banning all use of asbestos in the UK in late 1999, there was never a ruling to order the removal of asbestos in situations where it had previously been used. The justification? When properly managed and left in good condition, asbestos poses absolutely no threat. When let get into a bad state of repairs and become disturbed, however, this deadly material is a silent killer. Unfortunately, in many instances, asbestos isn’t managed in the way it should be and we’re set to continue seeing innocent workers contract these deadly diseases for years to come, even after the ban.

One shocking fact surrounding the use of asbestos is that it is contained within almost 90% of schools! This shocking statistic was, until recently, thought to be closer to 75%, however recent announcements suggest that the true figure is actually 86%. That’s a lot of schools which contain asbestos and when you then learn from the School’s Capital Review back in 2011 that, ‘Significant parts of the school estate were and are in an unacceptable state,’ it starts to get a little worrying.

Simple classroom tasks such as slamming a door or removing books from a cupboard can release hundreds of times the background levels of asbestos, seeing children breathing in these deadly fibres without even realising it.

As such, it is time that something was done about the risks of asbestos in schools. The government still maintain a ‘manage rather than remove’ policy, however what must be taken into account and acknowledged is the state of the asbestos contained within some schools. What is needed is a large scale inspection across the entirety of UK schools and solutions put in place to safeguard children and teachers alike in those where simple tasks are seeing asbestos released into the air.

We recently came across a fantastic infographic put together by the team over at Asbestos Advice Helpline which focuses upon the problems of asbestos in UK schools in a little more depth and we’re pleased to share this with you below:

Asbestos In UK Schools – An Infographic - An Infographic from Asbestos Advice Helpline

Infographic By Asbestos Advice Helpline

Unless action is taken, children will continue to be at risk. However, by spreading awareness, we can only hope that, in the not too distant future, the government take note and put in place a solution to the problem.


This is a guest post from Asbestos Advice Helpline