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Almost half of Bradford Schools Contain Asbestos

Almost half of schools within Bradford Metropolitan District Council's remit contain asbestos, according to new figures.

The UK Asbestos Training Association (UKTA) has told teachers just how important it is that they take care not to remove any panelling or wall fixtures without the express permission of a health and safety coordinator, as harmful fibres could be released into the environment.

Bosses from UKTA claim 75 per cent of all schools in the country contain some amount of asbestos in them, while 96 of 205 state schools in Bradford have this problem, reports the Telegraph and Argus.

A spokesperson for the association, which works throughout the UK and wants to improve the education sector's knowledge of asbestos and its risks, said: "Teachers need to think twice before fixing work to walls in such a way that would disturb asbestos and builders need to ensure they have the training and skills necessary to remove and dispose of the material safely."

While low level exposure to asbestos on a small number of occasions is unlikely to cause any serious lung issues, those who have breathed in the substance's particles are at high risk of developing mesothelioma - an incurable cancer.

Ian Murch, a National Union of Teachers member in Bradford, told the Telegraph and Argus: "As with anything these days, there is the issue of having the money to remove it, but it [asbestos] needs to be managed."

One of the highest profile asbestos deaths in Bradford involved Graham Butterfield, a teacher who worked at Hutton Middle and Tong schools between 1967 and 1996, before dying of mesothelioma in early 2011.

An inquest into the 64-year-old man's death ruled that the cause of his fatality was an industrial disease, something that could potentially leave his former employers open to legal proceedings.

Tong School has since been demolished and rebuilt. It is not thought to contain any asbestos at present.

By Francesca Witney