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Northern Scot
Published:  09 January, 2009

THE discovery of asbestos in a council building has sparked a safety alert.

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Access has been blocked to boiler rooms in 90 local authority-run buildings - including schools, swimming pools and offices - following the discovery of small quantities of the material during routine inspections.Asbestos has been a popular building material since the 1950s and is used as an insulator, for its good fire protection properties and to protect against corrosion.Problems arise when asbestos is disturbed and the fibres become airborne, as they can be inhaled and lead to lung disease and cancer.The small-scale contamination was found in areas not open to school pupils, teaching staff or members of the public, Moray Council has stressed, with the decision to restrict access to staff being taken as an entirely precautionary measure, with there being no discernible health risk.Staff members with regular access to boiler rooms, such as janitors and caretakers, have been informed of the situation.

The council takes its health and safety responsibilities very seriously and acted as soon as the situation became apparent, said a spokesman."Access to all boiler rooms within the council's property portfolio has been restricted as a precautionary measure. A full asbestos survey is currently being carried out by specialists and a number of boiler rooms have already been given the all-clear. No traces of airborne asbestos have been detected," he said. "It is anticipated that the survey work will be completed by the end of January."In buildings in the ownership of Moray Council, asbestos was stripped out as and when it was found. The spokesman added: "The traces that have been discovered are the remnants of asbestos installation dating back many years. Although most was removed, the standards involved in carrying out the removal work were lower then than we would expect today. "Hence the detection of the very small quantities which were found during the latest routine inspections and hence the action taken by the council."

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