The lack of funding to tackle asbestos in schools is “appalling”, unions have said.

The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) said it was shocking the UK Government has still not required lower control levels and limits for long-term environmental exposure to asbestos.

The JUAC – a trade union campaigning committee comprising eight unions – said the Government knows there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos and children are far more likely to develop the cancer mesothelioma after exposure than adults.

Earlier this week the Department for Education reopened its Asbestos Management Assurance Process which asks school employers to say whether they are compliant with the asbestos management regulations.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said: “This is totally unacceptable.

“We already know that nearly 90% of schools contain asbestos and that as asbestos ages, it deteriorates and becomes more difficult to manage.

“There is already plenty of evidence about poor standards of asbestos management across many local authorities and academy trusts.

“What we urgently need is earmarked funding to make our schools safe from this scourge.”

Figures suggest that between 200 and 300 adults are estimated to die every year because of asbestos exposure as a school pupil.

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