HEADTEACHERS should be on high alert over the threat of asbestos following fears over the safety of crumbling concrete in their classrooms.
As children head back to school this week concerns have been raised about the safety of aging school buildings, in particular those which contain Unstable Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC).
More than 150 schools were told by the Government last week that their buildings contained the concrete – also known as ‘aero bar’ concrete – and that urgent repairs would have to be carried to ensure the safety of staff and pupils.
But, according to the experts at Northampton-based Acorn Analytical Services, the problem could be ‘just the tip of the iceberg’, as crumbling concrete in roofs could also increase the risk of exposure to potentially deadly asbestos fibres among teachers and children.
Neil Munro, Director of Acorn Analytical Services, said: “The news last week is horrifying and will strike fear into the hearts of anyone with children returning to school this week.
“But it could be just the tip of the iceberg. Now the issue with RAAC has been identified there is a very real risk that any asbestos contained within the roof could be damaged too. Any repairs which are carried out to the concrete could disturb any asbestos contained within, leading to increased risks for teachers and children.
“For many years, we have worked hard to raise awareness of the danger of asbestos in schools. It’s estimated that over the past 40 years as many as 10,000 teachers, pupils and staff have died from exposure to asbestos.
“With this latest development the time for talk is over. The Government must act now to protect the safety of our teachers and young people.
“If any headteachers want advice or information about what to do next we are always available.”