Concerns have been raised over the number of schools in Renfrewshire which still contain asbestos.

A Freedom of Information request found the toxic substance is located in more than 40 primaries, secondaries, nurseries and assisted support needs schools in the area.

If undisturbed, asbestos doesn’t pose a health risk but, if material containing it is damaged, fibres can enter the lungs, causing asbestosis if exposed over a prolonged period.

That can lead to health complications, including cancer and a thickening of the lining of the lungs.

Fraser Simpson, partner and head of industrial disease at Digby Brown Solicitors, said the presence of asbestos within schools should be addressed as soon as possible to prevent the health of future generations being put at risk.

He told The Gazette: “There is a real danger that, as many of our public buildings containing asbestos get older and degrade, this will inevitably lead to disturbance of asbestos material.

“It’s all very well to say that the asbestos is not dangerous while it remains undisturbed but, unless steps are taken to gradually and safely remove asbestos, children in our schools will remain at risk to exposure through inadvertent disturbance and as the buildings degrade.

“The data also shows that, generally, the younger people are when exposed to disturbed asbestos, the greater risk they face in developing a serious asbestos disease in later life.

“Asbestos in schools is in many ways a ticking time-bomb and it is not acceptable to just ignore the problem and hope it goes away.”

Rachel Gallagher, charity co-ordinator at Clydebank Asbestos Group, which covers the west of Scotland, added: “Although the use of asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999, it sadly remains a serious public health issue.

“Asbestos still exists within the fabric of many of our old and public buildings, such as schools and hospitals.

“As a result, people will continue to be exposed to asbestos and be at risk of developing an asbestos-related disease.”

Renfrewshire Council said it is committed to protecting the safety of pupils, staff and visitors at local schools.

A spokesperson added: “We comply with all the relevant laws relating to asbestos.

“We have a detailed register of which buildings contain asbestos and where it is in the structure. Asbestos only becomes a hazard when it is damaged or disturbed and asbestos dust and fibres are released into the air.

“Often, the best approach is to leave it where it is and regularly monitor its condition.

“We have a robust asbestos management policy to make sure that no-one is exposed to asbestos dust or fibres in any council building. We adopt the most appropriate measures for each building to ensure people are safe. Sometimes that involves removing the asbestos and sometimes it involves sealing it in place.”

Health concerns: List of schools where asbestos is present

Schools in a number of towns and villages across Renfrewshire are on the list that contain asbestos.

In Johnstone, the issue affects Auchenlodment Primary, St Anthony’s Primary, St Margaret’s Primary and Johnstone High, as well as St Margaret’s Nursery.

The schools in Renfrew with asbestos are Arkleston Primary, Newmains Primary, Trinity High and Renfrew High.

Also on the list are East Fulton Primary and Our Lady of Peace Primary, both in Linwood.

Three schools in Erskine – Barsail Primary, Rashielea Primary and St Anne’s Primary – have asbestos, as does Wallace Primary, in Elderslie.

The toxic substance can also be found at Bishopton Primary, Howwood Primary, Inchinnan Primary, Lochwinnoch Primary, Langbank Primary and Bridge of Weir Primary.

In Houston, there are three schools with asbestos – St Fillan’s Primary, Houston Primary and Gryffe High.

Completing the list are several schools and nurseries in Paisley.

They are Brediland Primary, Bushes Primary, Gallowhill Primary, Heriot Primary, Langcraigs Primary, Lochfield Primary, Ralston Primary, St Catherine’s Primary, St John Ogilvie Primary, St Mary’s Primary, West Primary, Williamsburgh Primary, Paisley Grammar, Castlehead High, Douglas Street Pre-Five Centre, Glenburn Pre-Five Centre, Hugh Smiley Pre-Five Centre, Paisley Pre-Five Centre and the Mary Russell School.