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Hidden Danger Of Asbestos In Schools "Comes As No Surprise"

Following the school's closure, pupils are now being educated at Coleg Gwent's Ebbw Vale campus 12 miles away, and will remain there for the rest of the school year.

"Whilst asbestos is a truly horrible material, and this latest incident has served to again highlight the danger of asbestos in schools, it should also be noted that asbestos that is still in good condition and unlikely to be damaged or disturbed does not pose any immediate significant health risks, as long as it is properly managed," said Bridget.

"Certainly most teachers and pupils are unlikely to be at risk in the course of their normal day-to-day activities," she said. "Whilst we are aware of some cases involving teachers who have developed asbestos-related illnesses after being exposed, those most at risk are tradespeople and contractors brought in to do maintenance or repair work who are more likely disturb asbestos-containing materials. We deal with a number of cases every year where workers - including builders, joiners, plumbers and electricians - have developed an asbestos-related disease because of the work they did in school buildings many years ago.

"It can take between 15 and 60 years after being exposed to asbestos before any related disease becomes apparent," said Bridget. "Many people who are diagnosed often came into contact with asbestos several years ago and didn't even realise. It is only when the symptoms begin to take hold that they recognise the devastating effect working with asbestos has had on them."

Bridget, who for many years has seen first-hand the impact asbestos-related illness has on its victims, said asbestos fibres are invisible to the naked eye. "When inhaled, these tiny indestructible fibres lodge inside the body and can remain latent without symptoms for many years before causing a number of cancers, including mesothelioma," she said.

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