84 primary school buildings in Wiltshire contain asbestos

84 primary school buildings in Wiltshire contain asbestos

Published by Henrietta Creasey at 6:03am 18th July 2019. (Updated at 9:36am 18th July 2019)

3 minute read

The figure follows a Freedom of Information request to Wiltshire Council.

Research by law firm Stephensons found that the potentially deadly material is present in more than 5,000 English primary schools, across the 105 local authorities that provided figures.

That includes 84 primary schools in Wiltshire, 42% of the area's schools.

A list of schools has not been provided during the Freedom of Information request.

Asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999, but was routinely used to construct school buildings between 1940 and 1970.

Any damage to these older buildings can release fibres into the air, which can cause life-threatening illnesses if inhaled.

More than 40% of state primary school buildings in Wiltshire contain asbestos.

Kate Sweeney, a personal injury lawyer at Stephensons, said local authorities are not doing enough to tackle the issue.

"Many people think that asbestos is a problem of the past, and that related illnesses only affect construction workers and tradespeople.

"This is simply not the case. The potentially deadly material has been used in all types of buildings, and parents and teachers have a right to know if it is present in schools.

"We are calling for all schools and local education authorities to publicly disclose if asbestos is on the premises and the measures being taken to manage it."

Mesothelioma, a lethal cancer affecting the lining of the lungs, is directly associated with asbestos exposure.

The UK has the highest incidence of the disease in the world.


The disease has caused the deaths of 387 people in Wiltshire since records began in 1981, Health and Safety Executive figures show.

This includes 111 between 2013 and 2017, the latest five-year reporting period.

Caution Asbestos sign


Liz Darlison, from Mesothelioma UK said:

"There is no safe level of asbestos exposure, and we should be doing much more to protect people, particularly children.

"The time from exposure to developing the disease can take several decades, which is why the level of concern is perhaps not fully appreciated.

"As a nation, we must take responsibility and rid our buildings of this cancer-causing substance, for the sake of our children, their children, and every generation in the future."

A Health and Safety Executive spokesperson said:

"Since the dangers of asbestos became clear, successive governments have, over many years, made a concerted and sustained effort to address the issue.

"As a result, mortality rates in mesothelioma are expected to decline from the next decade."

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