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Risk To Children ‘Demonstrates Need To Tackle Asbestos In Schools’

Committee Report Highlights Concerns Over Material’s Impact On Younger People


By Rob Dixon

Asbestos illness lawyers have warned that new research which highlights the terrible dangers which children exposed to the material face highlights the very real need for action to be taken to tackle the presence of the material in schools.

The Government’s advisory Committee on Carcinogenicity (COC) has published its final statement in relation to asbestos exposure, after unanimously agreeing that children are more at risk of mesothelioma and other conditions as they will live longer for such conditions to develop.

It is believed the lifetime risk of developing mesothelioma is around five times greater for a five-year-old child than that for an adult aged 30.

Following evidence handed down at an Education Select Committee hearing on asbestos in schools in March, it has been suggested that between 200 to 300 people could die a year of mesothelioma because of exposure to asbestos while pupils at school.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Asbestos-Related Disease team represent people who have developed mesothelioma and other serious conditions following exposure to asbestos in a range of environments including schools, as well as the families of those killed by such diseases.

Adrian Budgen, national head of asbestos litigation at the national law firm, said: “The findings of this report are clearly a major concern and demonstrate how imperative it is for action to be taken to tackle this issue.

“We have campaigned for a number of years for decisions to be made on this issue and have recommended measures including the introduction of a full register of all asbestos in public buildings such as schools, as well as regular inspections to ensure such a database is kept up to date.

“Worrying estimates have been put forward regarding the impact of asbestos in schools, but it must be remembered that these are based on information from tens of years ago. Many buildings may have seen their condition deteriorate since then, with the asbestos in some cases potentially becoming a greater risk to both staff and pupils.

“Asbestos has had a huge impact on so many lives across the decades and it is vital that steps are taken to minimise the risks faced by people of all ages.”

Adrian added: “For some time the general argument has been that proper management of asbestos in buildings would ensure people are kept safe from harm, but ongoing concerns over this issue mean it is difficult to state for sure whether this would be the right approach.

“The complete removal of asbestos from schools and other public buildings, such as hospitals, could be the only way to ensure that everything is being done to prevent exposure to the material.”

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