UK’s Crumbling Schools: Asbestos Crisis Puts Lives at Risk

Up to 150 school workers and pupils face death or fatal exposure from asbestos each year, as experts warn that current plans to fix the UK’s deteriorating schools fail to address this deadly material. Leading health charities, professional bodies, unions, and campaigners accuse Rishi Sunak’s Government of neglecting the “schools asbestos crisis”.

Despite a 1999 ban, asbestos, extensively used in England from the 50s to mid-80s, remains a significant threat. A 2017 Department for Education report found 83% of English state schools had asbestos. The coalition urges the next government to set a deadline for complete asbestos removal from schools.

Experts estimate 15 school workers will die annually from exposure, with US data suggesting 135 pupils will also be fatally exposed each year. The group criticizes the Department for Education’s inadequate data collection and calls for robust legislative action to protect future generations from this enduring hazard.

We have demonstrated that the incidence of the disease amongst school and health workers is far higher than reported. Clearly, management of asbestos in situ isn’t working for a variety of reasons. Not least because what is assessed as safe on the day of inspection can change immediately in a high throughput environment.

Liz Darlison, Chief Executive of Mesothelioma UK

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