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Campaign group: Industrial disease could kill children

Michael Lees from the campaign group Asbestos in Schools, will be amongst those attending a committee meeting today, to discuss the issue of asbestos.

Michael's wife Gina was a school teacher, who died from mesothelioma, the form of cancer developed from exposure to asbestos.

Speaking to Daybreak he said: "You are aware that asbestos exists, but you are certainly not aware of the dangers, and the fact that just the simple act of going to school, you can die of an industrial disease."

Asbestos campaigners call for national school strategy

The Joint Union Asbestos Committee will attend an education committee hearing today to discuss what can be done about the amount of asbestos in schools.

The campaigners are calling for:

  • An immediate warning to all schools about warm air cabinet heating systems, which contain asbestos
  • An immediate audit of the condition and extent of asbestos in all UK schools and colleges
  • A trial for wide spread air sampling to assess the risk
  • A national strategic asbestos plan to include mandatory training for all staff and adequate resources
  • The reintroduction of pro-active HSE inspections to determine the standards of asbestos management in all schools
  • A long term phased removal of asbestos in all UK schools and colleges (priority to schools with asbestos in most dangerous condition)

Education Secretary Michael Gove and schools minister David Laws are due to attend this morning's committee meeting.


Education minister to discuss asbestos in schools

An education committee hearing will look at the issue of asbestos in schools for the first time today.

Seventy five per cent of all schools in the UK have asbestos, rising to 90 per cent in parts of Manchester and Wales.

Britain has the highest number of teachers dying from asbestos-related cancer in the world Credit: Stephen Pond/PA Archive

Currently Britain has no national plan in place for dealing with asbestos, despite having the highest number of teachers dying from asbestos-related cancer, in the world.

With an average of a 30 year incubation period, it is thought that only now we will begin to see the contamination problems from the 1980s.

Asbestos workers 'more likely' to die from heart disease

Asbestos linked to heart disease and stroke Credit: ITV News

Women who work with asbestos are twice as likely to die from a stroke and 89% more likely to die of heart disease compared to the general population.

The corresponding figures for men were 63% and 39% respectively.

The link between asbestos and heart disease was discovered after scientists analysed the cause of death among nearly 100,000 asbestos workers.

Asbestos linked to 'increased risk of heart disease'

Workers exposed to asbestos are at a “significantly greater risk” of heart disease and stroke compared to the general population.

Scientists analysed the cause of death among nearly 100,000 asbestos workers and found women are more likely to be affected than men

The research was carried out at the Health and Safety Laboratory in Buxton, Derbyshire.


Insurance firm welcomes 'clarity' over asbestos ruling

Municipal Mutual Insurance is one of four insurance firms involved in the asbestos legal action. In a statement it said:

Whilst the ruling does not reflect MMI's favoured outcome, we welcome the clarity this judgment brings as it enables MMI to determine the extent of its liabilities... It should be noted that MMI has continued to compensate local authority employers for mesothelioma claims, despite not being obliged to pay out claims until the outcome of the case was known.

'Mixed emotions' after asbestos ruling

Leslie Screach died in 2003 after being exposed to asbestos fibres. Today his daughter Ruth Durham said she still had mixed emotions:

I am delighted to hear of the court's decision which will now see justice done for my father and the other mesothelioma sufferers. I was determined to see this through with a positive outcome for all those who, like my dad, suffered so terribly because of someone else's negligence. I miss him every day and no sum of money will ever bring him back or make up for what he went through.

Asbestos ruling provides 'clarity and comfort'

Lawyer Helen Ashton said today's ruling provided "clarity and comfort" for families of mesothelioma victims. She represented the lead claimant in the case:

As well as the people currently directly affected by asbestos related disease, this judgment means that the thousands of people who are yet to be given the devastating news that they have the deadly illness will at least know that their families can get access to justice and receive the financial security they need. But the sad fact is that many victims of mesothelioma who have been awaiting the outcome of this appeal may not have lived long enough to know if their families will now receive the compensation they deserve.

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