Schools in the UK have been ordered to remove bunsen burner gauze mats as they are believed to contain asbestos.

The Department for Education (DfE) has written to all secondary schools and colleges ordering them to remove the mats.

The mats, which are used on top of bunsen burners, may have been in circulation since the 1970s.

In a letter to headteachers, the DfE said: “Remove current supplies from use until you have established whether the gauzes used in your school or college have been provided from an asbestos-free source.

“We appreciate that following these steps may affect your school or college’s delivery of the science curriculum and science departments may need to reschedule practical science lessons until such time that they can secure a fresh supply of gauzes.

“The safety of staff and students is of the utmost importance.”

The Health and Safety Executive has issued frequently asked questions about gauzes on its website.

Eton Environmental Group has carried out asbestos surveys in schools across the UK and our recommendation is that schools should simply dispose of any suspect gauzes as asbestos waste, as analysis could be misleading.

Please contact us for more information on our asbestos services for schools.