Category Archives: death estimates

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.

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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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…

European Union: asbestos related deaths .. double road deaths. Over 80% of schools in one country alone, UK, contain asbestos

European Committees 24 June: Asbestos related deaths predicted to double those of road deaths. .. the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Committee of the Regions (CoR) heard .. testimony from some of Europe’s top experts on asbestos… placing the total number of estimated deaths in Europe at 47,000 per year, 50% higher than previously thought and double those related to road accidents.  Children and teachers in schools, DIY enthusiasts and maintenance workers are …. increasingly at risk from asbestos infested buildings across Europe…. Asbestos was used extensively in buildings erected between 1961 and 1990, with millions of tonnes still present in buildings, not only putting building and maintenance workers at risk but potentially anybody present or occupying the property…. Over 80% of schools in one country alone, the United Kingdom, still contain asbestos… “Member States and the European Institutions need to take action now to head off this emerging public health crisis.  National Action Plans need to be implemented and the European Commission should prioritize its response to this major risk to public health across all policy areas. We are talking about a lot more than traditionally exposed factory workers, now extending our concern to the children in our schools ………Mauro D’Attis, CoR rapporteur … strongly regretted the fact that asbestos removal is not high on the EU political agenda, emphasizing the lack of political will to deal with an issue that kills thousands of people annually. “We need a rigorous analysis of existing risks and an effective model for registering asbestos presence in buildings”

BBC speaks to teachers dying of mesothelioma

BBC News Channel Victoria Derbyshire speaks to teachers dying from mesothelioma having been in contact with asbestos in school. The video is available for 29 days from today. Teachers must be protected from the “scourge of asbestos” in UK schools, the National Union of Teachers has said. Two former teachers tell how they have been affected. “I think it was in the ceilings, and I presume it was in the walls,” said Jenny Darby, 71, a science teacher between 1969 and 1996. “So when the [ceiling] tiles came off, the asbestos would come down. I used to stick them back up almost every day.” She does not know where she was exposed to the asbestos that caused her mesothelioma – a rare form of cancer almost always caused by exposure to the substance – but thinks it might have been in one of her classrooms. Asbestos was also in her lab equipment.

A 2013 study from the independent Committee on Carcinogenicity estimated more than 75% of schools in England had buildings containing asbestos. The NUT puts the UK-wide figure at 86%, based on a Freedom of Information request to local authorities. Symptoms of the cancer generally take 30 to 40 years to develop. Once diagnosed, however, most people can expect to live between just 12 and 21 months.

Jenny was diagnosed in May 2013 and is hoping her chemotherapy has slowed the cancer’s progress. But her husband, Bromley, said they were “on borrowed time”. “We’re looking ahead maybe six to eight weeks, maybe more,” he said, regarding the couple’s ability to make plans for the future. … David said.. “So I never thought I was really being exposed until after being diagnosed. I wasn’t aware that by banging doors that could have disturbed some of the asbestos fibres, which I’m now told it could have done. He described asbestos in schools as “a time-bomb waiting to explode”, and his main fear is for pupils. “Children will be children,” he said. “They will knock, tap, kick balls – no matter what signs you put up,” he says.

There are no statistics to suggest how many people might have developed mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure as a pupil, but the Committee on Carcinogenicity suggests a child first exposed to asbestos aged five has a lifetime risk of developing the cancer about five times greater than that of an adult first exposed aged 30.

The government said it would continue to develop more targeted guidance on asbestos management in schools and, where appropriate, fund its removal. A Department of Education spokesperson said: “Billions has been invested to improve the condition of the school estate, with further significant investment to come over this Parliament. This funding will help to ensure asbestos is managed safely and that the amount in school buildings continues to reduce over time.”

But NUT general secretary Christine Blower said the government had no “long-term strategy” and there was “still no [government] recognition that asbestos is a serious problem for schools”.

The Government’s most recent survey of school buildings deliberately excluded asbestos

Independent: NUT General Secretary, Christine Blower said the number of teachers dying of the disease is on the rise – with 22 recorded in 2012. …. She said: “Successive governments have failed to address the legacy of asbestos in schools, leading to unnecessary deaths of staff and former pupils. Children are more at risk than adults from exposure to asbestos fibres, due to the long latency period for mesothelioma. It is estimated that around 200 – 300 adults are dying every year as a consequence of exposure to asbestos when they were at school.”The review of asbestos in schools policy by the previous Government was a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done.  There is still no recognition that asbestos is a serious problem for schools.  Shamefully, the Government’s most recent survey of school buildings deliberately excluded asbestos.”

Government specifically exclude asbestos from their audit of the condition of school buildings

North Devon Journal The Department for Education estimates around 75% of UK schools contain asbestos and forecasts 53,000 mesothelioma deaths in the UK over the 25-year period from 2013 to 2037. However, the Government has resisted calls to carry out a national audit… Michael believes this is due to wariness of causing widespread panic among parents, and the fact the problem is so widespread that to solve it immediately would be enormously expensive. But he said people should not be kept in the dark about the dangers which exist at their schools.“An audit has never been undertaken to determine the extent, type, and condition of asbestos in UK schools,” he said.“In England, the Government even took the decision to specifically exclude asbestos from their two-year audit of the condition of school buildings which was completed in February 2015.” The Government claims the risks associated with asbestos can be kept low if it is managed correctly. Michael argues that asbestos is particularly difficult to manage in schools due to the likelihood of hazardous areas being disturbed as hundreds of children go about their day. He said the gradual removal of asbestos was the answer, adding: “As long as there is asbestos in schools, people will continue to die.”

Retired teacher Penny Devaney gave her life to education, literally

Asbestos: A double standard Retired teacher Penny Devaney gave her life to education, literally
SecEd 30 April: “Fire deaths, cycle deaths and school related asbestos deaths school-related asbestos deaths – while the government acts on the first two, it is scandalously slow to tackle the third, says Kevin Courtney… Perhaps it is the delayed effect – death can occur decades after first exposure. But those 200 to 300 former pupils who die each year are stolen from their families, often with dependent children, and are robbed of many years of productive life and a happy retirement.”

Daily Mirror 3th April: “Retired teacher Penny Devaney gave her life to education, literally.
Sometime during her 30 years at primary schools in Lancashire  she was exposed to asbestos, which was commonly used in public buildings after the Second World War, and now she has terminal lung cancer… Penny…won an undisclosed six-figure settlement from Lancashire County Council... Ian Toft, an expert asbestos lawyer at her solicitors Irwin Mitchell, said: “Penny, like many other teachers, was not warned of the dangers of asbestos, despite the risks of exposure being known for decades.”

NUT – Nearly 90% of schools contain asbestos and teachers are dying in increasing numbers

NUT conference 7 April. Christine Blower, NUT general secretary, said: “The continuing presence of asbestos in our schools is a scandal.  Nearly 90% of schools still contain asbestos and teachers are dying in increasing numbers. In 2012 alone there were 22 teacher deaths from mesothelioma. .. The Coalition Government has not acknowledged that there is a serious problem with asbestos in schools and as a consequence has, despite its recent Asbestos in Schools Review, failed to provide a long term strategy to address the problem. … We want to see nothing less than a complete national audit of the extent, type and condition of asbestos in our schools. In the short to medium term asbestos must be better managed.  In the long term, however, any future government must make real steps towards the removal of asbestos in schools, so that this threat to pupils, teachers and other school staff can finally be eradicated.”

My Sandra was killed by asbestos in school

“My Sandra was killed by asbestos in school. The grieving husband of a woman who died of cancer after being exposed to asbestos during her schooldays has vowed to carry on her fight for justice. Iain Naylor’s wife Sandra passed away last August, aged 52, following a painful battle with mesothelioma…… He said: “We are angry beyond words that Sandra was exposed to asbestos years after the first warnings went out in 1967 about the dangers in schools.”

The mum-of-two blamed her diagnosis on asbestos dust from building work while she attended Caldervale High School in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, between 1974 and 1979… Sandra was just one of thousands of youngsters potentially exposed to asbestos during their schooldays. Between 1947 and 1975 around 13,000 schools were built when use of the substance was at its peak. The average time from exposure to contraction of the cancer is 35 years and lawyers believe the peak of cases will come after 2020.

Government Review of asbestos in schools published – welcomed but an analysis of the flaws linked to a copy

At this link is a welcome for the review and an analysis of the flaws in the review that need rectifying. The analysis is linked to a copy of the review.

HSE visit .. only 39% of schools aware of DfE guidance on asbestos .. HSE no longer do safety inspections of schools

Legislation Watch:     Asbestos and schools: the lessons learnt (Legislation Watch 9 Feb 2015); “If children are exposed to asbestos, they have a greater risk of developing mesothelioma than if exposed in later life. In addition, there has been an increase in the number of teachers developing mesothelioma within the last 10 years… Of the 153 schools visited (by HSE), 20 (13%) were issued with an Improvement Notice… 24 other schools were given “written advice” on improving their controls…. 46% of schools did not have a comprehensive system in place to provide information to those who might disturb asbestos-containing materials… only 39% of schools in England were aware of the DfE’s guidance on managing asbestos in schools…. The competency of surveyors is critical in identifying where asbestos is and in what condition. Yet only 31% of schools could show to the HSE they had checked the competency of the surveyors they used… In relation to Asbestos Management Plans only half of the schools recorded all the details that were required, 33% had no such plans.”

Comment: This article underlines the failure of a significant number of schools  to safely manage their asbestos identified in the last round of HSE inspections. It also shows how essential it is to have a system of proactive inspections to identify those schools that are not managing their asbestos safely. However there is now no system in place as HSE are no longer is allowed to carry out these essential safety inspections.