Does your school contain asbestos?

How do you know if a school building contains asbestos? It’s not that easy, say the experts. If your school was built after March 2008, when asbestos was banned in South Africa, it’s unlikely to contain asbestos.

But it’s often only possible to identify the presence of asbestos with certainty using laboratory analysis, said Gabriel Mizan, an occupational hygiene scientist at the National Institute for Occupational Health (NOHI).

The golden rule is: when in doubt assume the material contains asbestos.

The Gauteng department of education did a survey in 2014 to find out which schools were made entirely or partially of asbestos. You can search to see if your school is one of them below:

If you think your school should be on the list but isn’t, you can approach your headmaster or school governing body to find out whether an asbestos inspector has been to your school to identify the presence of asbestos, and whether an inventory detailing the location of the asbestos has been made.

The National Institute for Occupational Health offers general awareness training to give people the tools to do a basic risk assessment and analyses air and material samples for the presence of asbestos.

This series was produced by the Media Hack Collective with funding from the Taco Kuiper Investigative Journalism Fund at the University of the Witwatersrand.