Asbestos in schools sparks scare

Asbestos in schools

05.02.2009

A health scare has been sparked in Kent after revelations that nearly all the county's schools have asbestos incorporated into the fabric of the buildings.

MP Steve Ladyman is demanding an investigation after a BBC documentary revealed that the potentially deadly material is in 554 out of 599 state primary and secondary schools.

Dr Ladyman said: "Asbestos is not dangerous if it is contained, so the kids are not at risk, but it is still something that needs to be investigated, and I will be looking into it."

But John Walder, secretary of the NUT Kent branch, is not so sanguine. He said: "The solution is the complete removal of asbestos from all the working spaces.

"As long as local authorities do not remove asbestos, there will be a risk of fibres getting into the atmosphere and getting into people's lungs."

Kent County Council spokesman Peter Binnie said: "Kent's schools are very safe. Kent manages its asbestos extremely well. We issue guidance regularly to raise awareness, and there is a huge amount of training and monitoring."

During the 1950s and 1980s, asbestos was widely used for fireproofing and insulation. It was later found that breathing in the fibres can cause potentially fatal diseases.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Caroline Pinfold, partner in the South of England Asbestos Team of national law firm Irwin Mitchell has represented the family of a mesothelioma sufferer against Kent County Council. She said: The relevant exposure occurred when the man worked as an electrician in a number of schools owned by KCC over 25 years ago.

"Many schools will have had asbestos removed since then but it is a fact that unfortunately some people, including teachers, caretakers and tradesmen carrying out work there, will have been exposed to asbestos in schools in the past."

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