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Report Examines Asbestos Exposure at one Derby School

A new report argues that asbestos exposure may have been more extensive than previously determined at the Silverhill School in Derby County in England.

Asbestos contamination at the school has already been labeled one of the worst cases in Derby’s history after workers completing routine window replacement disturbed large quantities of asbestos. No one realized what was happening until they were nearly three weeks into the job.

The city council ordered testing within the building to determine whether the concentration of asbestos fibers released was large enough to represent a significant health problem for students, teachers and workers. The initial conclusion by the Institute of Occupational Medicine was that the amount and duration of exposure represented a minimal to negligible risk especially when compared to readings typically found in industrial areas.

A review by the Health and Safety Executive and independent investigators dispute some of their conclusions because there readings were taken days after work was halted. This may have allowed fibers to settle meaning that any measurements would have been lower than if they were taken while school was in session and the work was being performed. Given that no one knew that asbestos was being disturbed no precautions were taken.

The Institute of Occupational Medicine refutes their arguments claiming that exposure levels were overestimated and that the duration of exposure was not enough to pose a long term health risk.