An official health and safety report has shown that visitors to the Houses of Parliament, MPs, peers and officials are at risk of exposure to dangerous asbestos fibres.
The report, commissioned by the Parliamentary Works Service Directorate, identified "significant dangers" to "all persons" contained in service shafts hidden behind the committee rooms and chambers in the 170-year-old building.
The report identifies more than 200 contaminated sites and warns that the risks of exposure to asbestos-contaminated material are not being dealt with appropriately. The dangers affect everyone within the Palace of Westminster, not only those who access and work within the service shafts and ducts, it added.
An access door to an asbestos-contaminated shaft next to the Commons kitchen was often opened when the room became too hot, investigators found. "On opening this door cold air rushes in and it was like standing in a wind tunnel," the report, obtained by medical technology magazine Clinica, states. "Asbestos fibres would be readily dispersed in the kitchen areas if the dust and debris was disturbed in the riser in any way."
The Palace has since said it locked the door shut as soon as the problem was identified in October 2007.
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