Asbestos Incident at Bloomfield Collegiate, Belfast

Friday, 29 June 2012 – Health Protection
Asbestos Incident at Bloomfield Collegiate, Belfast

The Public Health Agency (PHA) is working with the HSENI and Bloomfield Collegiate School in Belfast following findings of a survey by the school which indicated that damaged asbestos was present in parts of the former Preparatory Department building.

This building is separate from the main school and includes two rooms which were rented out to a private day care nursery. The PHA understands that work carried out in the building in 2001 may have caused the damage to the insides of cupboards.

The PHA would like to reassure the public that there is no immediate risk to public health as the building involved has been closed as a precautionary measure.

The PHA is providing on-going advice to the school principal on health risks associated with exposure to asbestos and within the past week PHA staff have been involved in a series of public health information sessions in the school for parents and staff. HSENI has also provided information to staff in the school and at the parents’ meetings.

A factsheet on Asbestos has been produced by the PHA which was circulated to all staff and parents of children at the school. This is available here.

A confidential PHA email facility has been set up to address general public health concerns following the asbestos incident at Bloomfield Collegiate on pha.asbestos@hscni.net Queries will be dealt with by a PHA Health Protection Consultant.

Asbestos is a general name given to several naturally occurring fibrous minerals that have crystallised to form long thin fibres. It is widespread in the environment as it used in many products, including insulation for houses, ceiling and floor tiles, car brakes and clutches, material for buildings, boilers and pipes, coated metal, textured paints and reinforced plastic amongst others.

Asbestos products in good condition are safe. Asbestos is only hazardous when it is in a loose form, damaged, disturbed or worked on, as this and releases the asbestos fibres into the air.

In general, asbestos is not considered to be acutely toxic. As with any  chemical exposure, adverse health effects from asbestos depends on several factors, including the amount to which a person is exposed, the duration of exposure, time since exposure, the way they were exposed, the type of asbestos and if they were exposed to any other chemicals. Not everyone who is exposed develops health problems.

Asbestos related diseases may take many years to manifest. There are no clinical tests to identify asbestos exposure apart from long term evidence of damage caused by fibres within the lungs.

Further information on the health effects of asbestos can also be found on the Health Protection Agency website

Further information

Further information on the health effects of asbestos can also be found on the Health Protection Agency website