Asbestos discovery prompts warning

24 Apr 2013

Schools have been warned to get their heating systems checked to protect the health and safety of pupils and staff.

This follows a Welsh school's closure after the discovery of asbestos fibres in its warm air cabinets heaters.

The Joint Union Asbestos Committee's (JUAC) warning comes after an investigation by HSL, the Health & Safety Executive-appointed asbestos experts.

The JUAC said it is "vital" that schools have checks undertaken by professional asbestos consultants to see if they have warm air cabinet heaters and whether these contain asbestos. If they do, heaters must be made safe.

Last October's investigation found that asbestos fibres were being released from Cwmcarn High School's heaters into the classrooms. It closed suddenly and remains shut.

Asbestos fibres there were being released at rates of 1,700 to 4,300 amosite fibres per cubic metre of air when the heaters were running and were knocked, as would happen if the classrooms were occupied.

Pupils and staff in the room would inhale up to 4,000 fibres an hour at this level.

In 1982 the HSE advised schools to seal or preferably remove asbestos panels from such heaters after it was found that they can release asbestos fibres.

Copyright Press Association 2013

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