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JMW Freedom of Information requests reveal that the majority of schools in Greater Manchester contain asbestos

Freedom of information requests made by JMW to local councils and schools have revealed that 58% (378 out of 650) of school buildings in the Greater Manchester area contain asbestos. This means that people working in and attending schools are at risk of asbestos-related diseases, which often aren’t obvious until symptoms appear later in life, typically between 30 to 40 years after the initial exposure to asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). 

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that has historically been used in manufacturing and construction since the late 19th century in ceiling tiles, sprayed coatings and pipes and boilers. 

It wasn’t until the mid-80s that brown asbestos was banned for use in construction, and a law soon followed in the late 1990s that outlawed the use of white asbestos. The Control of Asbestos Regulations Act in 1999 made the following illegal:

  • Use of asbestos cement

  • Use of insulating materials made from asbestos

  • Use of asbestos for surface coating

  • Use of asbestos paint or plaster

  • Importing products containing asbestos


Most of the school establishments that did feature asbestos have sealed off and regularly check ACMs regularly. However, there are a number of issues with leaving asbestos in place, even if it is not in poor condition, or if it’s sufficiently sealed. If the presence of asbestos is not clearly displayed, the asbestos could be disturbed by future maintenance or repair work. In addition to this, exposure could be accidentally caused in areas of high wear-and-tear, or damaged by vandalism. 

For more information on asbestos in schools, please take a look at our guide here.

Asbestos-related claims are on the rise, with HSE statistics revealing that there were 2,595 mesothelioma deaths in 2016, and it is estimated that there were a similar number of deaths due to asbestos-related lung cancer. A recent report from the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health indicated that asbestos-related diseases are linked to around 5,000 deaths per year. 

If you suspect that you’re suffering from an asbestos-related illness, the first step should be for you to get a diagnosis as soon as you can. If you are looking for legal support and help on your journey to recompense, call us on 0800 054 6570 or fill in our online enquiry form and we will contact you at a time you specify.

Full details of the freedom of information requests can be found below:

Council Number of Schools Responded Schools Containing Asbestos Percentage of Schools Containing Asbestos
Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council 123
51 42.46%
Bury Metropolitan Borough Council 82
57 69.51%
Manchester City Council 72 43 59.72%
Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council 80 72 90.00%
Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council 42 34 80.95%
Salford City Council 36 16 44.44%
Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council 80 58 72.50%
Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council 97 21 21.65%
Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council 40
28 70.00%
Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council Information Not Submitted Information Not Submitted Information Not Submitted
Total 652 380 58.28%

Fig.1 Percentage of schools containing asbestos, by council

Establishment Type Number of Schools Schools Containing Asbestos Percentage of Schools Containing Asbestos
Academies 650
378 58.15%
Schools and Academies (Total) 954
517 54.19%

Fig.2 Percentage of schools containing asbestos, by establishment type

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