An unforeseen consequence of the recent coalition government cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future Programme (BSF) is the increased asbestos exposure risk to pupils and teaching staff at many current school buildings built before 1970.

According to The Teacher’s Union, NASUWT, scrapping of the BSF programme could leave many of the older schools, built pre-1970s, and still containing dangerous levels of asbestos materials as ticking time-bombs. To date, across the UK, at least 200 are known to have died of the asbestos related diseases of asbestosis or mesothelioma.

Over the last twenty years, the number of teachers who have died from mesothelioma has increased by over 300%, whilst pupils exposed to asbestos, are five times more likely to develop mesothelioma than adult teachers in the same environment. There are recorded instances on coroners reports of the levels of asbestos found in former teachers to be similar to those who had worked with asbestos in heavy industry, and claims for mesothelioma compensation still continue, decades after first exposure.

Asbestos was extensively used as inexpensive, mass-produced building material for ceiling tiles, pipe and boiler insulation and wall coatings. Disintegrating asbestos can release fine asbestos fibres into the air, which can be breathed in and become imbedded within the lungs and membrane cavities. A long latency period may mean the signs of asbestosis symptoms reveal themselves only 30 to 40 years later, creating a real urgency with a mesothelioma claim for asbestos compensation.

The current severe public spending cutbacks have meant the cancelled BSF scheme still leaves the problem of school premises falling into further disrepair, which dramatically increases the risk of asbestos exposure. Unfortunately, whilst waiting to be hopefully, included on the BSF scheme, many schools spent little on school maintenance and now consider that total removal is now the only safe option.

Without adequate investment, even this last eleventh hour solution will not be possible and the fatal exposure risks continue to escalate.