20 June 2017 - 06:41 By LAURA GRANT (WORDS) | ALASTAIR OTTER (VISUALS)

One in eight Gauteng school buildings contain asbestos, exposing hundreds of thousands of pupils and about 10,000 teachers to serious health risks.

If these asbestos structures become dilapidated, fibres are released into the air. If they are inhaled, they can cause deadly respiratory diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma.

South Africa's Department of Education adopted regulations in 2013 stipulating that all schools made of asbestos had to be replaced by November 29 2016.

The Gauteng education department (GDE), which is responsible for the province’s school infrastructure, identified 29 asbestos schools for replacement, but not one of them was replaced by the deadline.

What’s more, the 29 schools now earmarked for replacement are just a small part of the problem. According to the GDE’s own information, there are more than 200 schools in the province with asbestos structures. But the list of asbestos schools keeps changing, and it is unclear if it is complete, and whether the asbestos structures are in good condition.

This is a three-part series about asbestos in Gauteng schools. Click on the below articles for the full investigation, interactive maps and searchable lists so you can look up schools to see if they are on the asbestos lists.

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

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