02/02/2012 06:14 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Asbestos In Schools Is A National Scandal Say MPs

School Getty

An all-party group of MPs is calling for asbestos to be removed from schools, saying its continued presence is a 'national scandal'.

The naturally-occurring material was routinely used from the 1950s through to the 1980s, and is safe if left undisturbed. If inhaled, its fibres can cause fatal lung conditions.

The MPs say asbestos is present in more that 75 per cent of schools, and the Department for Education said last year that its 'best estimate' suggested that more than three-quarters of schools had it.

Jim Sheridan, the Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health's chairman, told the BBC: "This is a national scandal. Urgent action is needed to prevent more pupils, teachers and other staff being exposed to this deadly killer dust. We need both far greater awareness of the risks that this material poses and a programme for its phased removal."

The group also want parents, teachers and staff regularly updated about the asbestos in their schools, and for regular inspections of it to be reinstated.

The Health and Safety Executive state that inhaling asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK and accounts for 4,000 deaths every year.

A Department of Education spokesman said that whilst the health and safety of children and teachers was paramount, it was "absolutely clear that if asbestos is not disturbed or damaged, then it is safer to leave it in situ, with strong systems in place to contain and monitor it."

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