The scrapping of the Building Schools for the Future programme in July 2010, an ambitious £55bn project, which aimed to rebuild every secondary school in England, would have also finally removed the chrysotile white asbestos still hidden in the fabric of 75 per cent of affected buildings, a continued risk to teachers, pupils and other staff.

Also, as a result of a 35 per cent government cut to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) funding, the cancellation in Autumn, 2010 of the award-winning third outing of the “Asbestos Hidden Killer Campaign”, which had been focused on advancing asbestos awareness to the construction industry, a very real problem has been left as a result of the lack of urgent concern over the apparent ‘low level’ risk of white asbestos.

Most news reports of asbestos exposure today frequently highlight the risks of asbestos exposure by employees of the construction industry, i.e. builders, electricians plumbers, heating engineers, maintenance workers, vehicle drivers, etc.

Meanwhile, since 1980, teacher mortality rates from mesothelioma have reached a staggering 60 per cent with 138 deaths in the last ten years alone.

Despite the banning of the use of the most deadly forms of asbestos in 1985, the less toxic but still highly dangerous white asbestos, continued to be widely incorporated into many building materials, such as AIB ( Asbestos Insulating Board), cement products, surface coatings, adhesives, fillers and packing, lagging, etc right up until being finally banned in 1999.

It is estimated that between the end of WW2 and the mid 1970s, around 14,000 school buildings were constructed using the inexpensive but deadly insulating material.

The mortality figures of the many industrial and construction workers who were originally exposed to the deadly asbestos fibre dust throughout most of the twentieth century continues to this day. An average 4,000 still die annually as a result of the 15 -50 year gestation period before the first mesothelioma or asbestosis symptoms appear, with over 2,000 succumbing just to the incurable mesothelioma cancer.

However, the continuing danger is to the many thousands of newly recruited construction trade workers, teachers and pupils who are likely to be in daily contact with hidden asbestos in any school building or other type of premises built or renovated before the end of 1999 and especially before the 1980s.

Chrysotile white asbestos is still classified as a Class 1 carcinogen, even though it maybe viewed as a low risk material if left undisturbed and securely encapsulated. However, there have been many instances of unexpected interventions and the subsequent release of the fibre dust into the surrounding atmosphere.

Once breathed in, the fibres remain embedded within the linings of the lungs, or sometimes migrating to the stomach or heart membranes, which over time will develop into malignant tumour cells of the incurable mesothelioma cancer.