CHILDREN are not at risk after asbestos was discovered in a classroom at Bangor Central Primary School, according to the Education Authority.
The asbestos was discovered in a mobile classroom at the school and work is to take place during the Halloween break to enclose the material.
The Education Authority (EA) confirmed the presence of ‘asbestos containing materials’ (ACM) but said it posed a ‘low risk’ to children and its removal is not required by the Health and Safety Executive, The ACM was discovered during a routine asbestos management survey conducted by an accredited organisation which made the risk assessment.
“We became aware of the presence of Asbestos Containing Materials within mobile classroom No. 4 at Bangor Central Integrated Primary School during a recent, routine asbestos management survey,” said a statement issued by the Authority.
“This Asbestos Management Survey was conducted by a UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) accredited organisation and concluded that the materials presented a low risk with recommendations that ACMs should be managed in situ, which is standard practice when managing Asbestos materials of this nature.”
The statement pointed out: “As a precautionary measure, EA has commissioned the installation of timber panelling to enclose ACMs in mobile classroom No. 4 and this work is scheduled to take place during the Halloween break.” The statement stressed however:
“It is not a statutory requirement, or recommendation from the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI), that asbestos materials are removed from properties once identified.” Asbestos was a widely used product in the construction and refurbishment of buildings until its eventual ban in the late 1990s. Asbestos can be found in any building built before the year 2000, including, for example, houses, factories, offices, schools – even hospitals.
If inhaled, asbestos can cause lung diseases like mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer and can lie dormant for decades before symptoms emerge. The EA said it invests more than £1m each year on the management and removal of asbestos found in the school estate across Northern Ireland. It works under strict guidelines with environment specialists to ensure ACMS are managed in accordance with legislation and guidance. In the vast majority of cases, ACMs can be safely managed by enclosing, sealing, encapsulating or repairing but, where these remedial actions are not practical or appropriate, ACMs will be removed under controlled conditions. Current HSE guidance stated it is often the case that it is safer to leave asbestos in place than to remove it.