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Schools: Asbestos

Volume 491: debated on Thursday 23 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families whether asbestos is routinely removed from those schools buildings where it has been identified under the Building Schools for the Future programme. (270010)

[holding answer 22 April 2009]: Major refurbishments carried out under the Building Schools for the Future programme normally include removal of all asbestos in areas in which it would be disturbed by the work undertaken. Asbestos is also removed when buildings are demolished. Asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) that are likely to deteriorate are identified by an asbestos survey for each refurbishment and are normally then removed. Where minor refurbishment work takes place, an asbestos survey is done and, depending on the condition of the ACMs, they are either removed or managed in place.

Asbestos does not pose a serious risk if it is managed properly in accordance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) does not recommend the routine removal of asbestos. Its advice remains that, providing that ACMs are maintained in good condition, they can be left where they are and managed until a building reaches the end of its life and asbestos can be removed without risk of exposing building users to risks arising from significant disturbance.

The risks created by removal need to be borne in mind; unless the removal is carried out perfectly, the process may leave contamination. If the asbestos is in good condition and is not likely to be damaged or disturbed, it is usually safer to leave it in place and manage it until the building has reached the end of its useful life.