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Teachers and lecturers face asbestos threat

by Access Legal

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Teachers and lecturers could be among thousands more people exposed to the dangers of asbestos than at first thought.

Between 1980 and 2005, 178 teachers died from mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer.

More could be at risk because of the presence of asbestos in school and college buildings, where for many years as it was used for fireproofing and wall insulation.

It was only in 2000 that its use was banned in UK buildings, and it is believed it remains in around 500,000 buildings.

Asbestos only creates a health risk when it is disturbed, causing asbestos fibres to become airborne. It may be disturbed when maintenance and refurbishment work is carried out in schools and colleges. 

It can also be disturbed by pushing drawing pins into walls – it is thought a single drawing pin can release 6,000 fibres. Mesothelioma can be caused by exposure to just one fibre. 

Sara Hunt, solicitor and asbestos specialist at Access Legal from Shoosmiths, said: "It is crucial that those buildings with asbestos in them are identified, and that it is removed safely to protect the future health of teachers and lecturers."

A website with guidance on improving the management of asbestos in schools can be found at: www.asbestosexposureschools.co.uk.

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