A Government report has revealed that more than 75 per cent of state schools are believed to contain some asbestos.
The report released by the Department of Education shows that more than 14,000 schools were built between 1945 and 1975 when the use of the material was at its highest.
It states: “Asbestos can be found in Victorian schools, or traditionally constructed buildings, and in schools that were refurbished before its use was banned in 1999.
“Asbestos fibres only become a risk to human health when they are released into the air and breathed in.”
Guidance on the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) website made clear a large number of schools have asbestos – but this should not be a concern in most cases.
The guidance added: “A large number of schools and other public buildings contain asbestos – often in the fabric of the building.
“Its presence alone should not cause concern, provided it is managed properly.
“Asbestos that is in good condition and unlikely to be damaged or disturbed is not a significant risk to health.
“This means that teachers and pupils are unlikely to be at risk in the course of their normal activities.”
Despite this, campaign groups insist action on asbestos will come too little too late, with HSE statistics reporting 272 school teachers and lecturers suffering mesothelioma-related deaths in UK educational establishments from 1980 and 2005.
The GMB union, which represents school support staff, is calling for the phased removal of asbestos across the country by 2028.
Other groups representing school staff have also raised concerns about asbestos.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, added: “Successive governments have failed to address the legacy of asbestos in schools, leading to unnecessary deaths of staff and former pupils. It is estimated up to 300 adults are dying each year as a result of exposure to asbestos when they were at school.”
If you or a family member have been affected by an asbestos related illness, please contact us on 0800 294 3065 where we will be able to help, support and advise.