Asbestos found in more than 1,700 schools across Scotland

The Scottish Government said it recognises the health risks posed by asbestos.

Asbestos found in more than 1,700 schools across Scotland iStock

More than 1,700 schools in Scotland contain asbestos, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

Some 1,745 primary, secondary and special schools across the country currently hold the toxic substance.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that was used in a variety of buildings for its anti-corrosion and heat-resistant qualities.

But the material was banned in the UK in 1999 after it was found to be carcinogenic, meaning it can cause cancer.

The Scottish Conservatives, who released the figures in response to an FOI request, called the findings “shocking”.

The party’s education spokesman Stephen Kerr said parents across the country will be seeking urgent reassurance from the new education secretary Jenny Gilruth.

He said: “These shocking figures raise serious questions about the safety of many of Scotland’s schools on the SNP’s watch.

“With over 1,700 of them containing deadly asbestos, these findings fly in the face of education supposedly being the SNP’s top priority.

“Asbestos is toxic and can have fatal consequences for those exposed to it.

“Parents will naturally be very concerned at the sheer number of schools known to have it within their estate.

“They will be seeking urgent reassurances from new SNP education secretary Jenny Gilruth – herself a former teacher – that she is on top of this issue.”

Kerr said councils will struggle to remove the toxic substance from schools due to cuts from the Scottish Government.

He said: “It reaffirms that the SNP have systemically passed on savage funding cuts to local authorities for years, meaning schools across Scotland don’t have the resources to remove asbestos from their buildings.

“That must change which is why the SNP must back Scottish Conservative calls to give councils a fair funding deal to remove these deadly threats once and for all, to keep our pupils, teachers and support staff safe at all times.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We recognise the hazard of asbestos and the risks to health it poses.

“However asbestos is only dangerous when disturbed which is why it is important it remains in-situ while it is in ‘good’ condition, and that all Health and Safety Executive guidance is followed when planning and carrying out any removal.

“This is the situation for managing asbestos in schools across the UK.

“Overall, school buildings across Scotland are in their best condition since recorded figures began and our £2 billion programme of investment in schools, delivered in partnership with local authorities, will benefit tens of thousands of pupils across Scotland.”

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