Update: 9 May 2014
29 October 2013
While ministers “consider scaling back the Department for Education’s work addressing the issue of asbestos in schools because of budget cuts”, according to The Guardian, unions are warning schools, history societies and individuals who own World War II gas masks not to handle them or put them over their faces, after tests showed that asbestos fibres can be released and pose a health risk.
Members of JUAC (Joint Union Asbestos Committee) have written to the Department of Education to alert all UK schools not to use the old gas masks.The masks, some of which are now more than 70 years old, contain asbestos. Tests have shown that if they are worn people are likely to inhale asbestos fibres. The masks, filters and carrying bags can also be contaminated and should not be handled.
JUAC is urging all those who come into contact with the gas masks to follow safety guidelines which include:
- stop using the masks immediately; and
- contact the local authority for advice on how to safely dispose of the masks, filters and canvas carrying bags.
WWII Gas Masks Warning (pdf)