Can asbestos be found in schools?

11th March 2024 by ProDEM

Asbestos, once hailed a miracle material for its fire-resistant properties and durability, is now recognised as a hazardous substance with severe health implications. While its use has declined significantly over the years, many older buildings, including schools, may still contain asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). In this article, we’ll explore the presence of asbestos in schools, risks, and measures taken to address this ongoing concern.

 Understanding Asbestos in SchoolsHow do you safely remove asbestos

Asbestos was commonly used in construction materials such as insulation, ceiling tiles, floor tiles, and pipe insulation until the late 20th century. Unfortunately, this was before its health risks became widely known. Many schools built or renovated before the 1980s may contain ACMs, posing a potential risk to students and staff if these materials deteriorate or are disturbed.

 Risks Associated with Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that was commonly used in building materials in the past due to its fire-resistant properties and durability. Exposure to asbestos fibres can lead to serious health conditions, including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. These diseases often develop years or even decades after initial exposure, making it essential to address asbestos hazards proactively. In particular, children may be more vulnerable to the effects of asbestos exposure due to their developing bodies and longer life expectancy. This in turn, increasing the importance of safeguarding schools against this hazard.

 Identifying Asbestos in Schools

Given the health risks, schools must conduct asbestos inspections and surveys to identify the presence of ACMs within their facilities. These assessments typically involve inspecting building materials for asbestos-containing components and sampling suspected materials for laboratory analysis. Common areas where asbestos may be found include the ceiling tiles, insulation, flooring, and HVAC systems.

 Managing Asbestos Risks in Schools

Once asbestos-containing materials are identified, schools must implement appropriate strategies to minimise the risk of exposure. In some cases, encapsulation or sealing of ACMs may be sufficient to prevent fibre release. However, if materials are damaged or deteriorating, removal or abatement may be necessary to ensure the safety of occupants.

 Importance of Asbestos Awareness and Training

Educating school administrators, staff, and maintenance personnel about the dangers of asbestos exposure is crucial for maintaining a safe learning environment. Training programs should cover topics such as identifying potential asbestos hazards, proper handling procedures, and protocols for reporting suspected ACMs. By raising awareness and providing adequate training, schools can ensure individuals to take measures to protect themselves and others from asbestos exposure.

Asbestos Removal in NottinghamLegal Requirements and Regulations

Federal and state regulations impose various requirements on schools regarding asbestos management and abatement. The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), enacted in 1986, mandates that schools conduct periodic inspections for asbestos, develop asbestos management plans, and communicate asbestos-related information to parents, teachers, and employees. Additionally, state and local regulations may impose additional requirements for asbestos management in schools.

 Asbestos Abatement and Remediation

In cases where asbestos removal or abatement is necessary, schools must follow strict protocols. This is to ensure the safe and proper handling of ACMs. This process typically involves sealing off affected areas. Then using specialised equipment to minimise fibre release, and disposing of asbestos-containing materials in accordance with regulatory requirements. Professional asbestos abatement contractors have been highly trained and certified to perform these tasks safely and effectively. 


In conclusion, asbestos remains a concern in many older school buildings. Proactive identification and management of ACMs are essential for safeguarding the health and well-being of students and staff. Furthermore, by conducting inspections, management strategies, and training, schools can minimise the risks with asbestos exposure and create a safer environment. As we prioritise health and safety in educational settings, addressing hazards must be a priority to ensure long-term well-being of school communities. 

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