Great Britain’s National Union of Teachers (NUT) is speaking out on the risks associated with asbestos in the schools there and is calling for the hazardous material to be removed from all school buildings.
According to an article in Herts 24, a regional newspaper, NUT recently released guidelines which state that “the risks in schools are clear.”
“Poor structural maintenance and vandalism make schools more vulnerable than other buildings to the risk of release of asbestos fibers.”
“NUT members have died from mesothelioma. In many respects, children are more at risk,” the statement suggests. “Given their age and the long latency periods associated with asbestos cancers, they are potentially at greater risk of developing an asbestos-related disease later in life.”
The guidelines also say: “NUT policy is that all asbestos should be removed from schools wherever it is found and whatever its form, unless this is completely impracticable. Only complete removal will help to ensure health and safety in schools.”
“A few years ago southern Ireland took the decision to remove all asbestos from their schools because of the particular vulnerability of children, and that process is just about completed. Yet our government even refuses to assess the full scale of the problem and advocates that it is safer to manage asbestos than remove it,” says Michael Lees, whose wife – a 30-year veteran of the public schools – died of mesothelioma in 2000 at age 51.
Asbestos exposure in the schools is usually caused by teachers sticking pins or thumbtacks into walls and ceilings to hang papers or art projects. Many teachers note that school vandalism has also contributed to the destruction of asbestos materials which, subsequently, release fibers into the air. Thus far, no students have suffered the ill effects of asbestos exposure.