School pupils could be at risk of being exposed to asbestos, a teacher's union has warned.
The material was used extensively in schools built between the Second World War and the early 1980s and it is believed it could still be present in some 13,000 schools in the UK.
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers has called on ministers to survey all schools and colleges to find out the extent of asbestos use in the buildings.
ATL general secretary Mary Bousted said: "We are deeply concerned about the continuing risk to teachers, support staff and pupils from asbestos in our schools.
"We don't know how many schools still contain asbestos, so most teachers have little idea of whether they or their pupils are being exposed to it.
"Over 400 ATL members know they have been exposed to asbestos in their school or college. But this is the tip of the iceberg.
"Many teachers and pupils will be unaware, and because asbestos-related illnesses take between 15 to 60 years to develop it is difficult to know how many will become ill or die as a result of exposure.
"The health of thousands of young people and those working in education is far too precious to allow this to be swept under the carpet any longer."
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Adrian Budgen, Partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell said; "Unfortunately, children of school age are particularly susceptible to damage from asbestos fibres, as their lungs are not fully developed and the potential for harm is that much greater.
"All possible precautions should be taken to protect school pupils as well as staff and maintenance workers. The scale of the problem is breathtaking and urgent action is required to protect future generations."