Alert Detector receives 'top marks' from 'Asbestos in Schools' Group
- Date: Thursday 23rd January 2014
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"Alert has huge potential to help us achieve our aim of widespread air sampling in schools" was the comment made by Michael Lees of Asbestos in Schools Group, in January 2014 when he met with the Alert team.
'Asbestos in Schools' is an entirely voluntary, non-political lobbying group set up by Mr Lees 13 years ago following the tragic death of his wife Gina. Mrs Lees, a nursery school teacher, was exposed to asbestos at work and died at the age of 51 from mesothelioma, an entirely asbestos related cancer.
It soon became clear in Mr Lees's investigation into his wife’s death that the lack of asbestos management and the resultant exposures of staff and pupils in schools is a national problem. In the thirteen years since her death Mr Lees and AiS have campaigned tirelessly to make schools safe from the dangers of asbestos.
Members from the AiS Group met with the Alert team including The Select Group (responsible for the commercialization of Alert); the University of Hertfordshire (responsible for the technology) and ACAD (Trade Association adviser on asbestos for Alert). A technical presentation on Alert's current capabilities was presented followed by discussion on how Alert might be helpful to AiS in their aim to promote widespread air sampling in schools.
(from L to R: Graham Dove (NASUWT Herts), Alan Archer (Select Group), Graham Warren (ACAD) , Prof Paul Kaye & Dr Chris Stopford (Uni of Herts), Michael Lees (Asbestos in Schools), Stephen Platkiw (ATAC) & Loretta King (Select Group - not shown)
The UK has approaching 30,000 schools (excluding Universities) and the government and local authorities estimate that 70-85% of our school buildings containing asbestos (mainly amosite) making it is a very real and present danger to children, teachers and support staff.
Current Government policy states, “So long as the asbestos is in good condition and not likely to be disturbed then it is safer to leave it in place and manage it than it is removing it.” The problem is that many schools are not effectively or safely managing their asbestos. There is also concern that general daily "wear and tear" by the hundreds of children passing through schools is enough to release dangerous levels of asbestos fibres into the atmosphere.
Alert, the world's first real-time detector of airborne asbestos fibres, could at last provide AiS with reliable equipment that will detect whether asbestos both identified and considered to be in "good condition" in classrooms and around school buildings is actually releasing fibres into the air during normal daily activity.
The Alert team will be field testing the detector in circumstances to mimic the conditions of a busy school environment (without actually posing any risk to children). Should the field testing prove that during normal daily activities, unsafe levels of asbestos fibres are being released into the air from what may currently be considered to be asbestos in good condition and "managed" it will give serious cause for the HSE and in turn the Department for Education to review their current policy for managing asbestos in schools.
AiS's objective to make schools safe from asbestos is very much inline with Alert's objective to provide real-time warning preventing prolonged, unknown exposure to airborne asbestos.
For updates on Alert's progress visit www.asbestos-alert.com, follow us on Twitter @AsbestosAlert or join our 'Alert Asbestos' group on LinkedIn.
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