Whilst asbestos was once thought of as nothing more than a highly useful building component it is now known worldwide as a dangerous substance and in the 1990’s the UK government has banned its use.
Large scale sites such as commercial buildings and schools often contained asbestos as part of the structure because of the material’s excellent insulation properties. It is also resistant to fire, heat, water, and electrical damage, as well as being relatively cheap to buy and install.
In most cases if asbestos is in good condition and left undisturbed it is harmless as it is only when the asbestos fibres make contact with your lungs that they can lead to diseases.
Here are some sample questions that you can ask to give you a better idea of the asbestos usage in your child’s school:
Is there asbestos in the school and what type of asbestos is it?
Of course, there may not be any asbestos in your child’s school. If the building was constructed after the 1990’s or the school has taken measures to remove all asbestos there may be nothing to be concerned about.
The type of asbestos also makes a difference. Asbestos lagging, spray, or insulating board can all easily disperse fibres into the air. On the other hand asbestos sealed in place to things such as toilet cisterns and window sills is harder to displace.
Where is it, how much is there, and what condition is it in?
These are also all valid questions to ask your school. If your class teacher, head teacher, or school governors don’t know where the asbestos is located then you can ask to see the most recent asbestos survey.
This will tell you exactly where it is, how much of it there is, and what condition it is in. However, it is highly likely that if the asbestos is in poor condition the school will be asked to have it safely removed by a professional company.
Can the children access the asbestos?
Asbestos is most commonly used for insulation purposes and is therefore found in the ceiling. This means that it is unlikely that your children will have access to it.
However, asbestos can also be found in walls, window and door surrounds, gyms, swimming pools, toilets, and cupboards. This means that innocent acts such as slamming doors or pinning posters to the classroom wall may help disperse asbestos fibres.
What can I do if I’m concerned?
If you’re at all worried about your child being exposed to asbestos then the best thing to do is contact the school. All schools containing asbestos have to have regular asbestos surveys carried out and this will be able to provide you with all the information you need about the asbestos in the school.