No risk from asbestos in schools - claim

PUPILS and teachers are not at risk from asbestos despite the deadly material being contained in dozens of Suffolk schools, officials promised today.

PUPILS and teachers are not at risk from asbestos despite the deadly material being contained in dozens of Suffolk schools, officials promised today.

Education bosses admit any school built in the county during the 1970s or earlier could contain asbestos.

But they claim strict safety regulations, which have been in place for more than 20 years, eliminate any danger.

Asbestos-related diseases, which include mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer, are thought to kill up to 3,000 people each year.

Earlier this month, it emerged that up to 13,000 state schools in the UK still contain asbestos. Huge amounts were installed during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

But John Ross, from Suffolk County Council, said strict guidelines were in place to protect pupils.

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He said: “Any school building pre-1970 is likely to contain some asbestos, but pupils and teachers are not at any risk at all.

“There are regulations which have been in place since 1983 that ensure any building work is carried out in a safe and satisfactory way.

“The regulations are in place and we adhere strictly to them.”

The government is in the process of implementing a £45billion programme to refurbish every secondary school and half of England's primary schools, although there is no guarantee asbestos will be eliminated from buildings.

Asbestos is believed only to be a risk if it is disturbed or damaged, which can cause fibres to be released into the air.

If asbestos containing materials are in good condition and in a position where they are not going to be disturbed or damaged, it is safer to leave them where they are.

Electricians, plumbers, building maintenance workers and carpenters may still be at risk when carrying out refurbishment and repairs on buildings which contain asbestos.

But it is now thought that repeated low level exposures may also lead to asbestos induced cancers.

Are you a victim of deadly asbestos? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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