School children 'at risk from asbestos in classrooms'

Parents and teachers should be made aware of the dangers posed to children by asbestos still contained within some schools, a union has warned.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) said while research suggests around 86 per cent of school buildings contain the substance - which can cause cancer - 44 per cent of teachers questioned did not know whether their school was one of them.

Figures suggest 86 per cent of school buildings contain asbestos Credit: PA

NUT deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney said between 200 and 300 former schoolchildren die of mesothelioma each year, along with rising number of teachers.

The type of cancer develops slowly over a span of between 30 to 60 years, meaning the younger a person is when exposed to asbestos the higher the risk is to them.

As a union we are equally concerned for children as we are for teachers and support staff, but the dangers for children are more acute because they've got more life ahead of them.

The asbestos that's in our schools now is getting older and older, so it's deteriorating and if it's in a poor condition then it's in a more dangerous state.

– Sarah Lyons, NUT lead on asbestos