United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson has this week committed £1 billion to improve the condition of the nation’s schools.
Many advocates for asbestos eradication have lobbied the government to spend a portion of that money on remediating what are known as ‘CLASP’ buildings across the nation, and contain asbestos.
Highly popular throughout the 1950s, more than 3,000 schools across Britain used the buildings to improve school capacities in a short space of time. The buildings were only designed to be used for a maximum of 40 years, but many remain standing and are approaching 70 years old.
Advocates for the removal of the buildings claim that there are rising rates of death among teachers and those in schools, from a working lifetime of low-level asbestos exposure.
A report by ResPublica, as part of the campaign Airtight on Asbestos, showed that teachers in the UK are five times more likely than the national average to develop mesothelioma. The same report showed that exposure to asbestos-containing material in the first two decades of an adults life meant they were twice as likely to develop mesothelioma.
The UK’s National Audit Office estimates that for schools to be improved sufficiently – to remove the asbestos risk entirely – the total number pledged would need to be at least seven times what the Prime Minister has pledged.
ResPublica penned an open letter to the chancellor of the exchequer in April, calling for a portion of the fund established to remove unsafe material from schools be recommitted to remove asbestos in high-risk schools.
The company explained that the government could work with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on remediating asbestos at the same time as removing cladding on unsafe buildings.