Refurbishment work discovered more asbestos than expected

Asbestos is being stripped from a secondary school (Diocese of St Albans, Townsend CofE School) where students are being taught music…. A notice was recently sent to parents of pupils attending St Albans Music School, which earlier this year had to relocate to Townsend School from its former base at Garden Fields JMI, to make way for the latter’s expansion. … it said that the music school would not open until next Monday, September 21, as builders carrying out refurbishment work had discovered more asbestos than expected. He said that an initial survey identified the presence of asbestos mainly in floor tiles, the plant and electrical intake rooms and a ceiling panel.

Parents, teachers and governors knowledge and management of asbestos in schools

Although welcoming the fact that the council is checking the state of the fibres in schools, John McClean, GMB national health and safety officer, admits the union are concerned about the quality of these checks.
“Now that this information is finally out in the open and parents, teachers, staff and governors know exactly which schools contain asbestos we would also be interested in the council’s long-term plans on how to deal with this deadly problem,” he said.“Blanket claims that the asbestos is being managed properly often fail to address the nature of the environment in schools, where the presence and activity of children do not make a typical workplace and exposure to asbestos fibres can occur inadvertently.” The Trade Union Congress (TUC) have recently adopted a proposal, supported by the GMB, calling for all asbestos to be removed from public buildings, including schools, by 2028 and then by all buildings across the UK by 2035. The union are now hoping to meet with the council over the issue.

Barking and Dagenham Post 10 Sep

Teachers inhale dust from drawing pins

However, experts warn that this is just the tip of the iceberg, and that we may continue to see a rise in mesothelioma related deaths in areas not traditionally associated with heavy industry. Experts believe that thousands of white collar workers, a group previously deemed to be low risk, could be susceptible to asbestos related diseases, due to the widespread use of asbestos as a building material during the second half of the 20th Century. Office workers, doctors and teachers all could have disturbed and inhaled deadly asbestos dust from an act as simple as placing a pin in an asbestos filled wall.

Legal Examiner 9 Sep

An ‘unstoppable momentum’ in the fight against asbestos in schools

We have an ‘unstoppable momentum’ in the fight against asbestos in schools ….. We now know, because of the Committee on Carcinogenicity (CoC), for example, that children are far more vulnerable than was originally thought and it is acknowledged that schools need to be viewed differently to other places of work. That is because of the pressure that has been put to bear in the last few years…“We are now talking about this in a way we weren’t two decades ago. The debate is based around knowledge and information, and we have that evidence on our side. That in itself gives me great hope for the future… The figures speak for themselves. Between 1980 and 1985 there were 15 recorded mesothelioma deaths among school teachers – just three per year. In 2012 alone, there were 22. The numbers are set to continue to rise as the links have become more evident. Around 75 per cent of UK state schools contain asbestos and there is now further research estimating that as many as 300 former pupils could be dying every year from exposure while they were at school. These pupils are dying in their 40s and 50s because of the long latency period. In recent years, Mr Lees has been a member of the Department for Education’s Asbestos Steering Group, which advises ministers, and he was a founder of the campaigning organisation, Asbestos in Schools. He also sits on the Joint Union Asbestos Committee, which comprises membership from 10 teaching and related trade unions. Those groups encouraged the creation of the CoC, adding medical expertise to the debate.

Sec Ed, 9 Sep

The BMJ predicted a rise in the number of asbestos related diseases.. teachers

Sunderland Echo, 11 Sep:The British Medical Journal recently predicted a rise in the number of asbestos-related diseases, likely to peak around 2020. The deadliest such disease is mesothelioma, for which there is no cure. Mesothelioma has mostly affected those who have worked in heavy industry without protection against the asbestos dust they were exposed to,” said Mr Hall. However, more recently cases have appeared where teachers and office workers have developed this disease.
These occupations were not previously considered at risk, but the evidence shows low level exposure to the dust is sufficient to cause disease.

175 schools across Shropshire with asbestos

Hundreds of buildings in use across Shropshire contain asbestos, new figures released by councils revealed today…. Overall there are 391 sites across Shropshire with asbestos, of which around 175 are schools, 13 libraries, 10 fire stations, and about 10 leisure facilities including swimming pools…. The building that contains the most traces of asbestos is The Shirehall in Shrewsbury, where 398 samples were found during an inspection. This is followed by the Grove School in Market Drayton with 270 samples and Idsall School in Shifnal with 257.

Sunderland Echo, 11 Sep

Allay fears after asbestos found at primary school

CONWY County Council has moved to allay fears after asbestos was found at a Rhos on Sea primary school. The hazardous material was found at Ysgol Llandrillo-yn-Rhos during an inspection before a kitchen revamp which took place during the school holidays. The spokesperson added: “Work to refurbish the kitchen at Ysgol Llandrillo-yn-Rhos was scheduled to take place during the summer holidays…. “This involved undertaking a pre-refurbishment survey, which included an assessment to confirm the presence or otherwise of asbestos.

“As expected, in line with the Schools Asbestos Register, Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) were identified and the appropriate management processes were implemented to ensure that any risks were mitigated. As an additional safeguard the survey was extended to the whole school. The headteacher has been kept informed and air monitoring has been on-going and will continue on a regular basis to ensure air quality. .. “Further work will take place at October half-term.”.. Conwy council added that they were managing the asbestos in order to reduce risk, but did not confirm whether or not any of the materials will be moved.

What would be very useful is to have regular air monitoring in schools ..

Kent On Line: Dr Mc Kenna “The argument is that it is perfectly acceptable to block it in (asbestos) as best as you can to prevent the fibres escaping, effectively you cover it up. What would be very useful would be to have regular air monitoring in schools so that you get a very accurate picture of the precise level of asbestos fibres at that time when the children are moving around the school.”

The article describes the increased deaths from mesothelioma in Kent. It gives figures for Medway, Ashford, Canterbury, Datford, Dover, Gravesham, Maidstone, Sevenoaks, Shepway, Swale, Thanet, Tonbridge, and Tunbridge Wells

Five newspapers – mesothelioma death rates in their area include teachers

Five newspapers have figures for asbestos related cancern in its area and compares its mortality rate with the rest of the country. They recognise the legacy of heavy industry in making for high death rates in their area, but also draw attention to those exposed in schools who have never worked in heavy industry. South Yorkshire Times….. The Herald: Plymouth……- The News: Fareham…… Chronicle Live : North and South Tyneside, Newcastle on Tyne, Sunderland, Northumberland, County Durham, Gateshead …….. North West Evening Mail

An increasing number of school teachers die from asbestos cancer

North West Evening Mail: Shocking new figures reveal more people are dying of asbestos-related lung cancer in Barrow than anywhere else in England and Wales. “So although the numbers due to shipyard causes are dropping because of the asbestos ban in 1999, and even before that the shipyard realised and started taking regulation seriously, it’s not going away. “And we’re seeing an increasing number of school teachers die from asbestos cancer because over half our schools have got asbestos in. … “So we really need some action to try and address this problem as not being historical – it’s changing, but it’s still with us.”an increasing number of school teachers

All Party Parliamentary Group regulations for removal of all asbestos in schools by 2028

“The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health believes that the time has come to put in place regulations requiring the safe, phased and planned removal of all the asbestos that still remains in place across Britain. …..

  • the dutyholder must develop and implement a plan for the removal of all asbestos which ensures that removal is completed as soon as is reasonably practical but certainly no later than 2035. In the case of public buildings and educational establishments, such as schools, this should be done by 2028.”

Background – or read the paper:  APPG paper Remove asbestos in schools by 2028

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More than two-thirds of all schools in Rossendale contain asbestos. FOI Request

Rossendale Free Press: More than two-thirds of all schools in Rossendale contain asbestos… . Of the 41 state-run primary and secondary schools in the borough, 29 contain some asbestos materials. Russ McLean, chairman of the Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group, was shocked by the figure. He said: “I can’t believe we are allowing asbestos to continue where children are. “At some point it will have to be removed and it should be done sooner rather than later.” Rossendale schools containing asbestos: Holy Trinity Stacksteads CE Bacup, Newchurch St Nicholas CE Rawtenstall, Newchurch St Peter’s RC Primary School Rawtenstall, Northern Primary School Bacup, Our Lady & St Anselm’s RC Whitworth, Rawtenstall St Mary’s CE Primary School Rawtenstall, St Bartholomew’s CE Primary Whitworth, St Paul’s Constable Lee CE Rawtenstall, Staghills Nursery Newchurch Newchurch, Stonefold St John’s CE Primary Haslingden, Stubbins Primary School Ramsbottom, Thorn Primary School Bacup, Tonacliffe Primary School Whitworth, Tor View Community Haslingden, Tor View Community (Ewood) Haslingden, Water Primary School Water, Whitworth Community High Whitworth, All Saints Catholic Language Rawtenstall, St Joseph’s RC Primary School Bacup, St Mary’s RC Primary School Bacup, Balladen Community Primary Rawtenstall, Britannia Community Primary Bacup, Broadway Primary School Haslingden, Crawshawbooth Primary School Crawshawbooth, Fearns Community Sports Bacup, Haslingden High School Haslingden, Haslingden Primary School Haslingden, Helmshore Primary School Helmshore, Hillside Nursery School Haslingden,

Rossendale schools without asbestos are listed in the article.

Edinburgh council removed asbestos but report of fine for exposure to asbestos dust at school

Edinburgh News: Lothian Councils pay £700,000 to asbestos victims… It was regularly used in buildings from the 1950s until the late-1990s when it was banned. With the number of people diagnosed with mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer, in NHS Lothian more than doubling in the past 20 years, experts warn the number of claims will continue to rise… New figures, released under Freedom of Information, show that the city council has paid out £356,800 in the past five years to victims of asbestos. Midlothian Council has paid out £152,700 since 2008 and West Lothian Council paid out £196,817 in a settlement to an ex-council worker who developed asbestos-related lung disease.

In 2004, Edinburgh spent millions of pounds to remove asbestos from council buildings, including schools and public buildings… Five years later, in 2009, the council was fined £14,000 after exposing ten of its employees to asbestos dust at Castlebrae Community High School.

Council fined £14,000 after exposing employees in school

Edinburgh News: Lothian Councils pay £700,000 to asbestos victims… It was regularly used in buildings from the 1950s until the late-1990s when it was banned. With the number of people diagnosed with mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer, in NHS Lothian more than doubling in the past 20 years, experts warn the number of claims will continue to rise… New figures, released under Freedom of Information, show that the city council has paid out £356,800 in the past five years to victims of asbestos. Midlothian Council has paid out £152,700 since 2008 and West Lothian Council paid out £196,817 in a settlement to an ex-council worker who developed asbestos-related lung disease.

In 2004, Edinburgh spent millions of pounds to remove asbestos from council buildings, including schools and public buildings… Five years later, in 2009, the council was fined £14,000 after exposing ten of its employees to asbestos dust at Castlebrae Community High School.

Heating engineers exposed to asbestos when working at Manchester school

HSE: A Stockport heating engineering firm were sentenced after two of its engineers were exposed to asbestos while working at a Manchester school. Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard Flueclean were contracted to replace boilers in the boiler room of the school. However, two of Flueclean’s gas engineers were exposed to asbestos when they took the side panels off boilers which had asbestos insulation on the boiler casing

BBC news: Take lead on asbestos in schools. Welsh government told. Gwyneth Bonnet dies

BBC News:  Take lead on asbestos in schools, Welsh Government told. BBC News 30 July Lawyer Cenric Clement-Evans told BBC Wales he wanted the government to set up an advisory group and create a Wales-wide policy. The Welsh government and UK government have disagreed over whether the matter is devolved. Asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999, after a link was established to lung diseases including mesothelioma. In England, the government published a similar policy in March this year, but there is uncertainty over who has responsibility in Wales.

Mr Clement-Evans, a lawyer from the Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign, said: “I don’t care who takes responsibility, I want somebody to take responsibility… “This is too important to get embroiled in some form of party politics or some big issues between the Welsh government and the UK government”.. “I think that the way is fairly straightforward, not the managing of the issue but the putting together of a steering group, deciding policy.” ..”I don’t think it’s difficult to start that ball rolling.”
Between 2003 and 2012, 224 people in Britain whose last occupation was recorded as “teaching professional” died of mesothelioma… The rate of deaths is rising, but only in line with overall mesothelioma deaths, which amounted to 21,957 during this same period… One of those was Gwyneth Bonnet. ..She was a college lecturer and teacher in Llangefni, Anglesey, in the 1990s and thought she came into contact with asbestos at Coleg Menai’s old Pencraig college campus…

link to map of England.. each county children at risk of school asbestos exposure … parents no right to be notified

Express: More than seven million schoolchildren are learning in asbestos-riddled classrooms, which could significantly increase their chances of developing cancer or respiratory problems in later life. New research has revealed that the home counties are the most deadly areas in the country outside London, with more than 200,000 youngsters at risk in Kent alone. In the capital a heart-stopping 1.2m children attend asbestos-riddled schools, according to figures obtained from a Freedom of Information request (FOI). However, despite the clear health dangers schools have no obligation to tell parents whether or not there is asbestos present on the premises. Kate Sweeney from leading law firm Stephensons said: “Many people still think that asbestos is only a threat to factory or trade workers and this simply isn’t the case. The deadly material has been used in all types of buildings since the 1950s and is still present in the majority of schools in the UK due to ageing stock. “These figures are very concerning and the fact that parents have no right to be notified, even more so. “Asbestos can be easily disturbed with a simple pinprick of the wall when hanging up children’s artwork and have a long term effect on the health of anyone exposed. “These findings make a clear case for parents to have better access to information on the measures being taken by local education authorities and schools to protect their children.”….

At the link is a map of England showing the number of children in each County in England at risk in their schools of asbestos exposure