Asbestos in schools is proving to be an even bigger problem than previously assumed. Asbestos is a dangerous mineral that has been used as a building material for decades, but was recently banned from use in construction during the 1980’s. However, any schools or buildings built before the 1980’s are at risk for containing asbestos.
This is the case for many schools in the United Kingdom, where its assumed that 75% of state schools in Britain contain asbestos in some form.
Asbestos is thought to be a safe material as long as its properly contained and is not disturbed. When disturbed the asbestos fibers become airborne and can be easily inhaled. The inhalation of asbestos fibers is what causes many diseases and cancers, such as mesothelioma, associated with asbestos.
Some organizations in the United Kingdom push for a complete removal of all asbestos in schools when its discovered in order to completely eradicate the threat. This idea, however, is not popular among the Cancer Research UK Chair of Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Institute of Cancer Research, Professor Peto. Professor Peto claims that the attempt to remove all asbestos fibers from schools will actually cause even more asbestos fibers to be released into the air and cause even more damage.
The idea of leaving the asbestos to potentially cause harm to the children of Britain is one that’s very disturbing to some people. Its known that children are much more susceptible to the effects of asbestos, considering that their lungs are smaller and less developed.
Although the path to which this asbestos crisis will be handled is not yet clear, the HSE will continue to work in Britain to educate and inform people on the dangers of asbestos.