It was reported recently by the thinktank ResPublica that British Students are 10 times more likely to be exposed to harmful levels of asbestos in schools as a consequence of the technology adopted in the UK which they say is less accurate than that adopted in other countries.
It has long been accepted that asbestos is present in many of the schools in the UK. This is largely due to the number of schools being built to the CLASP system in the 1960’s and 1970’s when asbestos was a very common construction material. Not only was it used to lay heating pipes it was used in the doors, wall panels, fire doors, ceiling tiles, heating cupboards and floor tiles. The recent report estimated that there are over 6 million tonnes of asbestos still contained in the fabric of these schools.
It has been a cause of some concern for teaching unions that the policy within the UK is that asbestos should maintained in good condition in-situ. One cannot help but suspect that this is simply to avoid the huge cost of removing the asbestos entirely from the fabric of these schools. Coupled with schools having to juggle budgets in a time of austerity, maintenance requirements may be a low priority for many schools.
The report from ResPublica suggested that a UK child may inhale up to 100,000 fibres per day compared to a German child who may inhale 10,000 fibres. The thinktank recommends the UK bring its requirements for management of asbestos up to the highest international standards which are currently implemented in Germany, the Netherlands and France.
The writer has seen the devastating affects of asbestos exposure having represented tradesmen who built these schools and the teachers and students who worked and studied in these buildings and have sadly contracted mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is an incurable cancer caused through the inhalation of asbestos. The incubation period for the disease can be anywhere between 12 to 40 years and many of these victims are in their late 50’s and 60’s when confronted with a diagnosis. Whilst mesothelioma is a rare condition it is reported there were around 2,500 such deaths in the UK in 2017.
There is no known safe limit for asbestos exposure and mesothelioma can develop where there have been only low levels of exposure to asbestos fibres.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos related disease please contact us on 0800 294 3065 and one of our specialist asbestos solicitors can advise and guide you through the claims process.