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RAAC crisis raises concerns over asbestos in schools

View profile for Danielle Callaway
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HSE prosecution against school following fatal accident

In trying to fix the issues with RAAC, there is a risk of disturbing asbestos which has been in place for decades in some school buildings. In 2019, Stephensons explored the issue of asbestos in primary schools in particular.

Our research found that over 5,000 local authority maintained primary schools in England contained the deadly substance. If you add to that the thousands of cases of asbestos in secondary schools, it’s clear to see the scale of the problem.

Asbestos was banned in 1999 but had been routinely used during construction in decades gone by. The material was commonly installed in school buildings during the 1940s-1970s and is now often in a deteriorating state.

Problem buildings with damaged roofs, rotten windows and broken ceiling tiles can result in asbestos fibres being released into the air. If inhaled, the fibres can cause a range of life-threatening illnesses including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. In view of this, extreme caution needs to be taken when correcting the issues identified with RAAC.

Asbestos risk to children and staff in more than 5,000 English primary schools