Inconsistent monitoring of asbestos in Welsh schools could put pupils and staff at risk, unions have warned

Safety worries over prevalence of asbestos in 60% of Welsh schools

A Freedom of Information (FoI) request by BBC Wales shows more than 900 schools are known to contain asbestos.

Most are regularly inspected, but some surveys are 10 years old and often asbestos is suspected but not known. Unions want urgent action to be taken.

The Welsh Local Government Association said councils worked to “eliminate any risks as quickly as possible”.

Earlier this year there were concerns that some asbestos surveys were out of date after a pupil kicked a hole in a school wall, exposing previously undetected asbestos.

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Asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999, because the fibres are linked to diseases including mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer.

However it can be found in many public buildings, including schools and hospitals built or refurbished during the last century.

If managed carefully, the presence of asbestos is less dangerous, as fibres must be inhaled to cause harm.

According to Welsh government guidance each school must have an up to date survey to identify the presence of asbestos.

A BBC Wales FoI request shows that while some councils regularly re-inspected buildings, some checks had not been carried out for years, with some dating back to 2011.