List of schools where asbestos will be removed is not enough to comply with the law

in News · 27-06-2020 12:00:00 · 0 Comments
List of schools where asbestos will be removed is not enough to comply with the law

Quercus considers that the publication of the list of 578 schools where asbestos is going to be removed is a step in the eradication of this substance in Portugal, but insufficient as it does not comply with all legislation.

In a statement, the environmentalists point out that, in addition to schools, Portuguese legislation requires the identification of all buildings, equipment and public and private infrastructures that contain asbestos.

“This 'survey' should include a total of procedures, which we are unaware of have been completed, namely the identification of all materials and equipment with asbestos, promotion of analyzes of concentrations of breathable fibres, assessment of the risk of exposure of workers and occupants of asbestos buildings, signalling priority situations with the definition of measures to prevent or minimise exposure, with the issuance of an action plan”, says the association.

Quercus - Portuguese Association for Nature Conservation recalls that the legislation obliges to identify all materials and equipment containing asbestos and stresses that, in the case of schools, “asbestos fibres were incorporated in other materials in addition to fibre cement roofing, such as floors, pipes, expansion joints, as well as other types of roofs”.

“We fear that this listing does not reflect the totality of materials. In fact, it is indicated in the current list that ‘structures’ are going to be intervened, a word that leaves us in doubt as to whether they are only referring to fibre cement roofing”, he underlines.

Quercus' SOS AMIANTO stresses that asbestos was not only used in schools and that “there are other buildings and infrastructures, such as trains, boats, hospitals, health centres, museums, offices and companies (…), which also incorporated these fibres” .

He recalls that since 2012 he asked for the publication of this list, which he considers “extremely important for monitoring the situation in Portugal”.

“Despite the proven risk of asbestos fibres and their relationship between their exposure and the development of cancer (mesothelioma, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, laryngeal cancer or stomach cancer), leading to it being considered a 'priority 'by the European Economic and Social Committee, in Portugal we still do not know where it was used and if there is any exposure, despite the obligation to identify it in the workplace,” says the association.

The association also recalls that asbestos had a common use, ranging from ducts to deposits and tanks for water supply and storage, including roofs, ceiling and wall coverings, chimneys, floors, cabinets, prefabricated houses, pipes for ventilation, blinds and appliances.

The list of schools where asbestos will be removed, under a programme that will cost 60 million and will be financed by community funds, includes 578 educational establishments.

According to the dispatch published on Tuesday, 23 June, in Diário da República, of the 578 schools distributed by the five NUTS II in mainland Portugal, 218 are in the North and 163 in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area.

There are also 107 schools in the Centre (NUTS II), 59 in Alentejo and 31 in the Algarve.

The schools included in this programme belong to the public network of pre-school education, basic education and secondary education.

This programme to eradicate asbestos in schools was announced earlier this month, taking advantage of the closure of schools due to the covid-19 pandemic.


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