Mercury Legal is backing calls for a Government review into the presence of asbestos in UK schools after the BBC reported on figures suggesting that the material is present in almost nine in ten schools in the UK.
The new figures, much higher than official estimates previously recorded, show that 86% of schools contain asbestos in some form.
Michael Lees, Campaigner and Founder of the Asbestos in Schools Group, collated the figures following Freedom of information requests sent to local authorities across the UK, enquiring if asbestos was present in their school buildings.
Mr Lees lost his wife Gina, a nursery school teacher 15 years ago to mesothelioma at the age of 51. He founded the Asbestos in Schools Group shortly afterwards.
Mesothelioma was once a very rare cancer but is now becoming more common, with 2,500 people in the UK diagnosed with the condition every year.
“In the last 10 years 158 schoolteachers have died of mesothelioma,” Mr Lees said.
“The Government have stuck their head in the sand and so what we want out of this review is openness; we want them [the Government] to say ‘yes there is a serious problem. We should have addressed it many years ago and we haven’t.’”
If left alone asbestos is harmless, however Mr Lees believes if asbestos is present in schools and accessible to children it is “inevitably” going to be disturbed.
“It is very concerning that there are so many schools that still contain asbestos,” said Gavin Moat, Industrial Disease Solicitor at Mercury Legal. “If untouched, asbestos is harmless but it is worrying that the material is still present in schools where there is always a risk that it may be disturbed.”
Mercury Legal has helped many mesothelioma sufferers and their families at what is always an extremely difficult time. If you need legal representation for you or your loved ones’ suffering, call 0800 1223130 or contact Mercury Legal online here.