More than two thirds of schools in the Belper area have potentially lethal asbestos present, an investigation by The News has revealed.
A Freedom of Information request sent to Derbyshire County Council has discovered that 22 of the 34 schools in the Belper area still have asbestos present.
In the wake of the news, asbestos campaigners say the known harm to children is merely the ‘tip of the iceberg’ and warn that more needs to be done to remove all of the potentially cancer-causing substance from schools.
But Derbyshire County Council has spoken to reassure parents that strict regulations are adhered to and that children are safe.
A spokesperson for the authority said: “We follow strict Health and Safety regulations to control asbestos in school buildings and keep pupils and staff safe.
“The buildings are regularly checked by a qualified team and we remove asbestos wherever it could potentially cause a problem or if any building work identifies a requirement for removal.”
But campaigners say they are unsatisfied and claim more action should be taken to protect children.
Joanne Gordon, of Derbyshire Asbestos Support Team (DAST), said: “It is incredibly worrying that so many primary and secondary schools contain asbestos.
“We have already helped and supported a number of teachers, particularly primary school teachers who have pinned children’s work on to walls or have decorated rooms for Christmas and other events.
“This is the tip of the ice-berg as how many children have been affected by asbestos from their schools.
“There is still a lack of awareness about the dangers of asbestos and just how easily asbestos can become damaged and therefore become dangerous.
“Asbestos needs to be systematically and safely removed from schools at a time when teachers, school staff and pupils cannot be exposed.”
The spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council said: “While we’re confident that the amount of asbestos is being reduced we cannot determine if schools will become asbestos free because it is only removed when identified as a potential problem following an assessment.”
To find out more information about asbestos in schools, or to seek support, visit www.asbestossupport.co.uk or www.asbestosexposureschools.co.uk