Asbestos found in 90% of British schools

Nearly nine in 10 schools contain deadly asbestos, the Daily Mirror has found.

We can reveal the biggest and most shocking picture yet of asbestos in schools and other public buildings after compiling results from freedom of information requests made to local authorities across the UK.

More than a dozen councils responded, admitting that 2,917 out of their 3,286 schools were built using asbestos.

That means that in total more than 22,000 of Britain’s 25,000 schools could be contaminated with asbestos.


Between 1980 and 2005, 178 teachers died from mesothelioma, the lung disease caused by inhaling asbestos dust – and worryingly the number is rising.

“For every teacher who may have been exposed to asbestos, up to 30 children have probably been similarly exposed,” warned Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

“Because asbestos-related illnesses take between 15 to 60 years to develop it is impossible to know how many will become ill or die as a result of exposure.”

Asbestos has also been found recently on the new 2012 Olympic site in Stratford, East London, and within the Houses of Parliament.

It has even been found in the window displays of up-market department store Selfridges in central London.

The Daily Mirror is campaigning for a national register of public buildings which have been surveyed for asbestos to give at-risk teachers and other workers the knowledge they need to protect themselves.

All the UK’s main teaching unions are supporting our key demands.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “Asbestos is a huge risk in schools and teachers are often unaware it is there.

“We would be very supportive of a national register.”

Dr Bousted added: “We support the Mirror’s campaign to get all the surveys on asbestos in schools published and freely available to everyone.

“The health of thousands of young people and those working in education are far too precious to be swept under the carpet any longer.”

Nick Sommerlad