In England, nearly seven hundred schools have been reported to the Health and Safety Executive, or HSE, because they are not properly taking care of the asbestos in their buildings. Also, nearly 90% of the schools in England contain asbestos!
Last year, a survey was launched by the government. 2952 schools responded in full to the survey. Of these schools, 2570 reported that they had asbestos in their buildings. That is 87% of them! The Department for Education, or DfE, has referred 676 schools to the HSE because they are not properly taking care of the asbestos in their buildings. Or at least they didn’t provide evidence such that they were. The HSE does say that asbestos is only a risk once damaged or disturbed. But asbestos safety campaigners and unions say that in schools, the asbestos is in easily accessible locations. It is constantly bumped and disturbed. Also, the staff doesn’t know where it is located. And most of the schools were over 40 years old, plenty of time to get the asbestos fibres all over the air. The staff can’t protect themselves or their students from asbestos exposure. Lucie Stephens campaigns against asbestos. She began to do so when her mother, Sue, who had worked in a primary school for thirty years, died in 2016 from mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a cancer that is almost exclusively caused by asbestos. It is most probable that the asbestos that gave her the cancer was from the school she worked in for those thirty years. Lucie said about her mum, Sue, that she was really bothered that she didn’t know the asbestos was there. She couldn’t protect herself or her students from exposure. And her students would be 40 now. Kevin Courtney who is the joint general secretary of the National Education Union or NEU said the fact that nearly 700 schools couldn’t prove to the HSE that they were dealing with the asbestos according to legal requirements just comes to show the shocking indictment of current oversight. Lives of thousands of staff and pupils are at risk through these 676 schools not properly taking care of asbestos. Studies have shown that when you are younger, asbestos is more dangerous. This makes sense for multiple reasons. Firstly one has more time to be exposed to more asbestos. And secondly many asbestos related diseases develop decades after the actual exposure. If you first get exposed at 50 and it takes four decades to get cancer you would probably die of age before you get the cancer. So it’s not more dangerous because the lungs are more sensitive, but it is still more dangerous and very scary. The HSE is expected to now fix the problems in these schools. But it will probably struggle to do so because of budget cuts. The HSE has estimated that in the United Kingdom, 5000 people die yearly from asbestos-related cancers. Also a higher rate of asbestos-related cancers than expected from any random person happens to nurses and teachers. Lucie Stephens, whose mum I told you about earlier, is trying to convince the government to release the list of schools that contain asbestos. She is also raising funds to build a website so that the list is accessible. The government, though, doesn’t want to release the information. It says that if they did no one would want to tell it information in the future. Recently Latimer AP academy, which is in north London, was forced to close when asbestos was found in their door frames. Also, recently asbestos was found in Brunal primary and nursery academy. Who knows what will happen to that school? So the government thinking that nobody would want to tell them information in the future is probably quite accurate. Charles Pickles is an independent asbestos campaigner. Until recently he worked as an asbestos consultant. He used smoking as an example for what we used to know and now know about asbestos. In the 60s and 70s everyone knew that smoking was dangerous. But then, suddenly, they discovered that passive smoking could cause cancer too. If in the 60s, 70s, or 80s you worked in an asbestos factory then your fate may be sealed. But the asbestos that was made then is still hanging around in our buildings today. And people still get cancer from the disturbed asbestos in said buildings. Asbestos has been banned in the UK, so why are there so many asbestos campaigners? Because the next step is removing it from all the buildings. And not just in the UK does asbestos need to be removed. Everywhere. Including your home or building. Think you’ve got asbestos? Call us today at (312) 586-8713 for a free quote for removal and testing.