Fears of asbestos risk to female teachers

There’s a possibility that female teachers are at an increased risk of suffering from mesothelioma, a cancer linked to asbestos, due to exposure in schools.   Teachers’ unions are working with a cancer expert to assess the risk.

Statisticians have detected a rate of mesothelioma deaths that is close to being significant among teachers born between 1955 and 1974. There have been 19 deaths, where the expected number is 12.3.

Teaching Unions are working with Professor Julian Peto, one of the country’s leading cancer experts, who has studied the issue for many years.  The study will measure the exposure to asbestos of women in their late 40s to mid 60s.  It asks for tissue samples from those who have lung operations, so that the level of exposure can be measured.

The Health and Safety Executive are running a program of inspections to assess how well schools are managing the risks from asbestos, which started in September 2022.  A survey conducted in 2019 found that 80.9% of participating schools said asbestos was present in their buildings.