Asbestos campaigners fear school children could be at risk

NDET 16-10-12 MC 4'Asbestos lung
NDET 16-10-12 MC 4'Asbestos lung

Shocking statistics show 75 per cent of Derbyshire schools contain asbestos - and campaigners say it could be putting children’s health at risk.

Derbyshire Asbestos Support Team is backing a call to remove the most dangerous materials from schools - as data shows the county has the second highest number of buildings containing the deadly fibres.

In Derbyshire there are 249 ‘system buildings,’ widely used for school premises, that have structural columns fireproofed with asbestos.

Campaigner Michael Lees, launched a website calling for the government to carry out progressive removal of all asbestos in schools after his wife, a former teacher, died from mesothelioma aged 51.

He said several Derbyshire schools contained high levels of the material.

He added: “It’s a terrible, terrible disease and it’s so avoidable. The government was warned about the dangers in the 1960s and warned about the risks to children in schools in 1966 but they carried on building thousands of schools using large amounts of asbestos.”

“Schools are not like an office where you can manage asbestos. Fibres can be released by slamming doors, hitting a wall or putting drawing pins in a wall,” he said.

Joanne Gordon of Derbyshire Asbestos Support Team, said a review should be carried out to assess the state of the county’s schools.

A Derbyshire County Council spokesman said the authority had its own asbestos survey team to offer support and advice and materials were inspected annually.

He said: “All aspects of safety in our school buildings is of paramount importance to us.”