UK children exposed to more asbestos than other countries
British asbestos regulation is so inadequate that a child can legally be exposed to 10 times as much of asbestos fibres as they would be in countries such as Germany, a report has warned.
There are estimated to be about 6m tonnes of asbestos spread across 1.5m buildings in the UK, with about 80% of schools and 94% of NHS trusts containing it.
The report criticises the regulatory regime in the UK for allowing schoolchildren to inhale levels of airborne asbestos so much higher than are accepted elsewhere.
It argued that the technology used to measure airborne asbestos fibres in the UK is far less accurate than the techniques used in other countries. “A child inhales between five and 10 cubic metres of air per day, meaning the permitted levels of airborne asbestos in the UK can expose a child to 100,000 fibres per day, compared with 10,000 fibres in Germany” , the report said.
According to figures from the ONS, since 2001 at least 305 teaching and education professionals have died of mesothelioma. A 2018 study suggested that there were five times more deaths from mesothelioma among teachers and three times more among nurses than expected in populations not exposed to the substance.
The thinktank recommends that the UK government bring requirements for the management of asbestos up to the highest international standards, which it says are practiced in Germany, the Netherlands and France.
“The assumption is that the harm caused by asbestos is a historical issue relating to traditionally hazardous occupations and industries. However, this view underestimates the dangers of chronic low-level exposure resulting from working in buildings containing asbestos. Mesothelioma can develop from exposure to only a small concentration of asbestos fibres, making secondary exposure no less a cause for concern.” , said the report’s authors.
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Here at Casa Environmental Services, we have all the knowledge, equipment and experience needed to not only identify asbestos, but also safely manage it. We are a Type C inspection body accredited by UKAS to the highest current UK standards. Casa technical management staff consistently strive for innovative ways to ensure that we provide the highest quality asbestos identification services, with the health & safety of our staff & building users our highest priority.
Education is a key work-sector for Casa and we frequently conduct asbestos surveys to schools & colleges. Our asbestos surveys are used to compile detailed asbestos management plans, giving the school clear policies and guidelines on how to safely manage their asbestos to help ensure that no pupil is put at risk.
Want to know more about our experience in providing asbestos surveys to schools & colleges? Check out our case study for Cheltenham College here.
Find out more about mesothelioma here.