Credit: Sky News
Common School Science Equipment found to contain Asbestos!
Gause Mats used in common secondary school science experiments have been found to contain asbestos.
Gause Mats containing asbestos have been sold by two companies to schools around the UK. These common pieces of science equipment are used in tandem with bunson burners which creates the risk of asbestos becoming airborne. As a result, schools across the UK have been urged to stop science experiments until the safety of these products can be ascertained. Many schools are now halting and delaying science experiments at in the new school year.
Chris Keates, general secretary for NASUWT union stated according to Sky News;
“It is shocking that suppliers, clearly it seems only interested in profit not people, have distributed such life-threatening equipment to schools putting children and teachers and other staff at risk.”
Chris has also added that it is “unacceptable” that the suppliers of asbestos contaminated gause were not named as the information could help schools to work out if they have acquired “potentially deadly material”.
Schools are known to have received guidance on the use of gause dating back to 1976 and there are now growing calls to name the two main suppliers of asbestos contaminated gause.
The Health and Safety Executive has however commented that they believe the risk of harm being caused by asbestos contaminated gause wire is “extremely low” and schools should only stop using gause as a precautionary measure.
Regardless, technicians and teachers are being advised to treat any suspected asbestos contamination seriously by disposing of the hazardous waste in double baggs or by sealing cupboards where gause is stored until it can be confirmed that the products are safe for use.
The Health and Safety Executive has said that their “limited quantitative testing” on gauze from both suppliers demonstrated a 20% – 30% asbestos contamination rate. However, not all samples showed the presence of the rare asbestos, tremolite.
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The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told Sky News that it is “limited by legal process” in what it can say about the suppliers involved, but said both companies are actively cooperating in its investigation.
A spokeswoman added that it is not clear how many schools, colleges and other users have been affected.
The Department for Education said: “Following advice from the Health and Safety Executive we have immediately written to all secondary schools and colleges advising them to take steps to remove and dispose of potentially hazardous mesh gauze used in science lessons.
“We will continue to liaise with the HSE and CLEAPSS [the organisation which advises local authorities and schools on science and technology] over this issue.”
Officials are investigating how they entered the UK in the first place as EU laws prevent asbestos from being used – and the HSE believes the affected gauze mats are imports. Enforcement notices have been served on the two suppliers involved.
In June and July, several makes of gauze mats in New Zealand were recalled because they were also found to contain tremolite asbestos. However, there is nothing to suggest that the companies affected by these recalls were supplying equipment to the UK.
The NASUWT is demanding to know how the government will support affected schools, which are being told they must pay for affected gauzes to be disposed of as hazardous waste, as well as buy replacements.
A Department for Education spokeswoman told Sky News that schools should seek compensation from their suppliers.
Author: Sonnor Sephton
Link to origional article: https://news.sky.com/story/asbestos-found-in-school-science-lab-equipment-11492785