Investigation reveals asbestos in 80 per cent of Derbyshire schools

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More than 80 per cent of schools in Derbyshire have potentially lethal asbestos present, our investigation has revealed.

A Freedom of Information request sent to Derbyshire County Council found that 335 of the 413 schools in the county still have asbestos present.

In the wake of the news, campaigners say the known harm being caused to children is the ‘tip of the iceberg’.

They warn that more needs to be done to remove the cancer-causing substance.

Derbyshire County Council has spoken out to reassure parents that children are safe.

A spokesperson for the authority said: “We follow strict Health and Safety regulations to control asbestos in school buildings and keep pupils and staff safe. The buildings are regularly checked by a qualified team and we remove asbestos wherever it could potentially cause a problem...”

But campaigners claim more action should be taken.

Joanne Gordon, of Derbyshire Asbestos Support Team, said: “It is incredibly worrying that so many schools contain asbestos.

“We have already helped and supported a number of teachers, particularly primary school teachers...

“This is the tip of the ice-berg as to how many children have been affected by asbestos from their schools. There is still a lack of awareness about the dangers of asbestos and just how easily asbestos can become damaged and therefore become dangerous.

“Asbestos needs to be systematically and safely removed at a time when teachers, staff and pupils cannot be exposed.”

The council spokesperson said: “While we’re confident that the amount of asbestos is being reduced we cannot determine if schools will become asbestos free because it is only removed when identified as a potential problem...”

FACTS ABOUT ASBESTOS:

Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring minerals used in certain products, such as building materials and vehicle brakes, to resist heat and corrosion. The inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause serious diseases of the lungs and other organs that may not appear until years after the exposure has occurred. For instance, asbestosis can cause a build-up of scar-like tissue in the lungs and result in loss of lung function that often progresses to disability and death. There are four main diseases caused by asbestos: mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and diffuse pleural thickening. According to the UK Health and Safety Executive, abestos-related conditions are responsible for about 4,000 deaths a year. To find out more information about asbestos visit:

www.asbestossupport.co.uk