UK children exposed to more asbestos than other countries – report

According to the Guardian, British asbestos regulation is so inadequate that a child can legally be exposed to 10 times as much of the toxic material as they would be in countries such as Germany, a report has warned.

The report, from the think tank ResPublica, calls for standards to be brought up to levels in the strictest European countries.

There are estimated to be about 6m tonnes of asbestos spread across 1.5m buildings in the UK, with about 80% of schools and 94% of NHS trusts containing it.

According to figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) released in July, in 2017 there were 2,523 deaths from mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the organs caused almost exclusively by the inhalation of asbestos fibres.

It is estimated that a similar number of people die from asbestos-related lung cancers.According to figures from the ONS, since 2001 at least 305 teaching and education professionals have died of mesothelioma. A 2018 study suggested that there were five times more deaths from mesothelioma among teachers and three times more among nurses than expected in populations not exposed to the substance.

The director of ResPublica, Phillip Blond, said toxic material being allowed to sit in an increasing state of decay in our schools and hospitals coupled with the death rates among nurses and teachers were “a tragic indictment of the current system of containment and control”.


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