MINISTERS’ insistence that asbestos present in schools is safe is “an absolute lie,” teachers have said.
Britain has the world’s highest incidence of mesothelioma, the lethal cancer caused by inhaling asbestos fibres, and the rate is climbing up.
Unions say three-quarters of schools have the deadly substance on site.
Now a report from the joint union asbestos committee has found that the risk to children has been underestimated because risk assessments were designed for adults working with asbestos, not for children, who are more vulnerable.
In the north London borough of Brent one woman, Sarah Jane Bowman, contracted mesothelioma at the age of 40 after childhood exposure. Astonishingly, her son was taught in the same prefab classroom where she is believed to have inhaled asbestos fibres.
A Department for Education spokesman said “billions” invested in school estates would ensure asbestos was “managed safely.”
Brent teacher Hank Roberts said: “Asbestos is giving death sentences to children as we sit here now. Saying it’s safe if it’s not disturbed is an absolute lie.
“They’ve known about it since the time of Pliny the Elder, warning about the asbestos mines and people dying of a disease there.”