It may sometimes be mistakenly assumed that it was mostly during the immediate post WW2 period that thousands of buildings, including schools, nurseries and colleges were quickly constructed using asbestos insulation building materials, including wallboards, boiler and pipe lagging, ceiling and floor tiles, and exterior cement roofing.

In the latest ‘asbestos in schools’ exposure case, the unfortunate female victim suffering with confirmed mesothlioma is only 50 years old. The school – in Airdrie, Scotland – was built just prior to attending as a pupil in her early teens between 1974 and 1979, when it is believed the exposure occurred during renovations taking place at the time.

Despite of growing asbestos awareness to the potential fatal health risks, asbestos containing materials (ACMs) were still being used by the building industry as recently as the 1970s, 80s and even the 90s. It is therefore, not surprising to find that potential mesothlioma victims can be found among much younger age groups than commonly imagined. The usual gestation period from initial exposure and breathing in of the fibres to the first appearance of asbestosis symptoms is between 10 and 50 years.

According to recent estimates, around three quarters of all schools across Britain still contain significant amounts of asbestos, and in specific areas of Manchester and Wales, the figure could be as high as 90 per cent.

At an ‘Asbestos in Schools’ enquiry held at Westminster in March 2013, attention was focused on the lack of asbestos awareness and training, which had led to “a failure by schools to manage their asbestos properly.” A Medical Research Council document presented to the committee concluded that “it is not unreasonable to assume that the entire school population has been exposed to asbestos in school buildings”.

Following on from the All-Party Enquiry, in early April, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “It is quite shocking that in 2013 we are still debating the issue of teachers and pupils being exposed to asbestos in our schools. “More than 253 teachers have died from mesothelioma since 1980.”

According to the Asbestos in Schools (AiS) group, more than 100 fatalities have occurred just between 2001 and 2005, affecting not only teachers or pupils but also childcare assistants, school caretakers, secretaries, cooks and cleaners, etc.

Between November 2010 and June 2011, compliance checks conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that around 17 per cent of those schools surveyed were unable to produce and show inspectors asbestos management plans or neglected to provide adequate staff training.

The situation in Scotland may even be more critical than anywhere else in the country. It has been recently reported that over 93 per cent of schools in Edinburgh built before 2000 contain asbestos in the walls, ceilings or floors. In East Ayrshire, there are 44 secondary, primary and nursery schools, which contain combinations of crocidolite ( blue asbestos), amosite (brown asbestos) and chrysotile ( white asbestos).

Estimated percentage figures for the amount of asbestos to be found in schools across other Scottish counties are Fife ( 86 per cent), Dumfries and Galloway (67 per cent) and Falkirk (62 per cent).

The Health & Safety Executive report that across the UK more than 1.8 million people are annually exposed to asbestos with at least 2,000 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed every year.