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It has been reported that Councils in England have paid out at least 10 million pounds in compensation to people who have developed asbestos related illness due to the presence of asbestos in school buildings.
In the past 10 years, 32 councils have settled claims from former teachers, school staff or pupils. The National Union of Teachers has reportedly said that up to 300 adults die each year because of exposure to asbestos in schools.
The Government has claimed that it is investing 23 billion pounds to improve school buildings. Campaigners have warned that the continuing presence of asbestos in schools puts lives at risk.
It has also been reported that figures show that there are at least 12,000 Council-run schools where asbestos is known to be present. The actual number of schools containing asbestos is likely to be higher, as many will not be included in these figures. It is also reported that schools built before the year 2000 are likely to contain some form of asbestos.
The asbestos disease mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos dust. It is incurable and currently causes over 2500 deaths per year in the UK. It has been claimed that there is no uniform approach to monitoring the presence of asbestos in schools in England.
Andrew Stinchcombe of Novum Law comments “mesothelioma can take many decades to develop. Therefore people who may have been exposed to asbestos in schools from many years ago will only now be starting to develop this deadly disease. It is also important to remember however that asbestos could still be present in current schools, and that the asbestos should not be disturbed except by experts. Sadly the number of cases of mesothelioma each year is continuing to rise and this is a legacy of the widespread use of asbestos throughout the UK in the 20th Century”.
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