Asbestos danger in schools revealed

The danger of asbestos discovered in the roofs of schools damaged in the recent cyclone weather has prompted a call by environmental organisation Quercus for the government to implement an urgent monitorisation of the situation and take necessary measures to eradicate the problem.

The findings are revealed 12 months after the Government was given a deadline to publish a report on the health risks of asbestos in public buildings to workers, occasional or frequent visitors.

Quercus staged an arm-in-arm protest when representatives met at the Escola Básica 2/3 of Vila Nogueira de Azeitão, in the district of Setúbal, with the intention of lobbying the Government on the impending problem.

In this school, pupils are having to take lessons in the refectory or library because some classrooms were destroyed in the recent bad weather and fragments from the roof revealed traces of asbestos.

Quercus says it is duty bound to pressurise the Government’s Environment Ministry to identify the national situation in schools, and structure a plan of action to determine the level of possible risk to pupils, staff, workers and visitors.

Quercus also wants other public buildings to be monitored and inspected, especially any that are in a state of degradation, to see if there is any trace of the asbestos fibres which can cause grave health problems if breathed in.

Asbestos consists of thin layered fibres that can cause lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses and often only affect the victim decades after exposure. It is found in walls, roofs, conduits and carpets.