June 21, 2024

The Asbestos Aftermath – how long-term asbestos exposure is still a silent killer in schools

The hazards of long-term low-level exposure to asbestos in schools have been trivialised and ignored for decades. Asbestos abatement projects are costly, and lack of awareness and training risk placing present and future generations at risk of fatal diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Asbestos can be found in any building that has been refurbished or built prior to the year 2000. Half of all schools in the UK were built between 1950 to 1980 when asbestos was used in building materials. As a result, of the 29,000 schools in the country, over 75% continue to contain asbestos.

A recent report has found that 5-10,000 school pupils and staff died from mesothelioma between 1980-2017 because they were exposed to amosite asbestos in their former schools in the 1960s-1980s.

The dangers of asbestos have been treated complacently – but why?

Available evidence implies that successive governments have disregarded the potential risks of long-term low-level asbestos exposure. School budgets are small, conserved for salaries and benefits for current and former employees. Asbestos abatement projects are notoriously costly – in June of this year, Montclair school in North Jersey’s “long-range facilities plan” was set to cost $60 million.

Additionally, school staff interacting with the CDC surveyors may be unaware of an asbestos register or an asbestos management plan – as such information is held by a responsible body.

Fortunately, the need for action is now being recognised.

The Department of Education through the Asbestos Management Assurance Process (AMAP) is seeking school-level information and an assurance of compliance from responsible bodies.
The Department of Education re-opened AMAP in November 2019 to provide those schools and responsible bodies which have not yet responded an opportunity to do so.

“Simply raising awareness about the perils of asbestos is not enough. Even if schools cannot afford refurbishment projects, we need a solution,” says Nick Pullan, Director and Surveyor at Alpha Surveys Ltd. “The AMAP process is essential for tackling the deadly legacy of asbestos and preventing the loss of further lives.”

Additional Information

Alpha Surveys seek to provide professional, reliable and affordable asbestos surveys and services to domestic and commercial clients. Operating across London and the South East, our Management, Refurbishment/Demolition surveys and Sampling Services are fully compliant with current regulations. We are accredited and qualified by the British Occupational Health Society (BOHS) and SafeContractor.

As a family-run business, we understand the importance of safety, trustworthiness and efficiency in the home or on business premises. As specialists, we pride ourselves on high standards of service – whether that is sampling to analysis or creating a detailed Asbestos Register Report and Management Plan.