The Danger of Asbestos in Schools

Do you know if your child’s school has asbestos in it? And is it a danger to your children? One of the UK’s teaching unions has raise concerns about the potential that hundreds of school buildings may still contain asbestos. So, what is being done by the government to protect the school’s teachers and pupils?

By now, the dangers of asbestos are very well documented. Asbestos was banned as a building material in 1999, but it was regularly used in the construction of buildings until this date, including in schools between the 1950s and 1980s.

It has been reported that over 200 teachers have died across the UK since 2001 from mesothelioma, a form of cancer that is caused by the disturbance of asbestos (data from the National Education Union).

Mesothelioma is caused by someone being exposed to asbestos fibres and it typically takes the disease more than 20 years to develop and show symptoms.

Government research has found that children who are exposed to asbestos in schools are five times more likely to contract the disease than adults that are 30 years old.

However, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said that if asbestos is properly managed in can cause a “very low risk” to children and teachers in schools.

The BBC has conducted research that has found that over half of the schools in the North West are known to contain asbestos in their structure, but local authorities in the area don’t know if 44% of schools contain the material or not.

This unknown knowledge is because about 61% of schools are outside LEA control, including many academies and free schools.

The teacher’s union surveyed teachers in March 2017 and found that around 46% of teachers had been told that the school they work in does contain asbestos but about half of those said they had not been told where it was located in the schools.