An assault on asbestos must be top priority

10th September 2010 at 01:00

In response to "I contracted a terminal disease through teaching" (TES Magazine, September 3), this Tuesday, September 14, will be the sixth anniversary of my mother's death. A dedicated teacher, she contacted mesothelioma following a careless clear-up of dust after removal of the school heating system almost 20 years before diagnosis. She was 58 when she died and lived just three and a half years beyond diagnosis.

I count myself lucky to work in mostly new buildings and to have an understanding and determined head who not only insisted on the removal of asbestos from our boiler room, but also made a point of telling everyone the dates this would happen in the summer break so that we might keep clear of school. Not everyone is as lucky.

Health officials and unions should be chasing this without delay. Every speck of asbestos has the capacity to take a life and it is simply unforgivable that this pernicious material is part of the fabric of school buildings. Yes, it will cost, but pupils and staff should not be expected to occupy buildings that could end their life prematurely.

I followed my mum into teaching and last year I was appointed a director of studies. I know she would be proud of me, but I never got to tell her. I miss her every day.

Liz Brooker, Guernsey.

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