British schools have come under fire for containing asbestos and putting the lives of teachers and students at risk. 700 schools in the United Kingdom have been reported to the national health and safety body due to the mismanagement of the asbestos in their buildings. Although 700 buildings have been reported, it’s estimated that 90% of schools in England are contaminated with asbestos, much more than the 700 that were reported to the national health and safety body.
This amount of asbestos in English schools in most likely due to the age of the school buildings. Many schools in England were built long before the 1980 asbestos ban, meaning that asbestos was heavily used in the building process of these schools. Also due to their age, many of these schools are deteriorating. When products containing asbestos deteriorate, the asbestos fibers in them go airborne, causing different lung health problems such as cancer and disease.
The lack of removal or awareness of the asbestos in these schools has caused unions and campaigners to start taking action against the mismanagement of asbestos in schools.
Kevin Courtney of the National Education Union gave this statement on the matter, “The fact that nearly 700 schools have been referred to HSE because they weren’t able to satisfy the DFE that they were managing their asbestos in line with legal requirements, is a shocking indictment of current systems of oversight. The lives of thousands of staff and pupils could be at risk in these schools. The HSE, which lacks resources following years of budget cuts, will now be expected to investigate these cases and we are concerned that it may struggle to do so.”
Clearly, something must be done about the asbestos in British schools.