Over half of schools in Liverpool are thought to have asbestos containing materials within them, it has been revealed.
In September 2016, 51 out of 87 schools in the area had been identified by Liverpool City Council as potentially having asbestos within them, or 59%.
That figure has remained unchanged since the academic year September 2014 to July 2015, when there were 56 schools thought to contain asbestos and five of them were rebuilt, involving the complete demolition of the old asbestos containing buildings.
Asbestos is a fibrous rock found in many materials including insulation, ceiling tiles and boilers in buildings built before 2000.
Despite being banned from use in new buildings, asbestos is responsible for around 5,000 deaths a year.
Whilst there is no risk to health if the asbestos containing materials are untouched, if they are damaged or disturbed by things like construction work, toxic fibres are released into the air which can cause cancer and other serious lung diseases.
During the three year period from September 2013 to September 2016, the council spent £74,820.60 on directly removing asbestos from schools.
But that figure doesn’t include the cost of work carried out by contractors or direct removal action by schools.
A Liverpool City Council spokesman said:
“The clear advice from health and safety experts is that asbestos is better left encapsulated if it is in good condition and unlikely to be disturbed, and that the risk is managed. Proactively removing asbestos potentially creates more risks.
When work is being carried out that may disturb asbestos there is always a comprehensive survey conducted to manage the risk, and if it does become a risk its removal is treated as a priority and by suitably qualified experts.
Schools manage their asbestos risk individually, and our own schools are audited on it every three years.
Asbestos in Liverpool schools is reducing as a result of rebuilding and replacing more than 30 schools since 1999.”