DES Administrative Memorandum 20/67 (1967)

In this Administrative Memorandum, the DES advised local authorities, schools and colleges about the dangers of asbestos in buildings.

The text of Administrative Memorandum 20/67 was prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 7 November 2017.

Administrative Memorandum 20/67 (1967)
Inhalation of asbestos dust

Department of Education and Science
London: 1967
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.

[page 1]

Administrative Memorandum 20/67
18th July, 1967.

To Local Education Authorities,
Colleges of Education, Direct
Grant Schools (including non-
maintained special schools),
Independent Schools and Major
Establishments of Further



1. Inhalation of asbestos dust is known to cause three conditions. The first is fibrosis of the lung, known as asbestosis; the second is cancer of the lung consequent upon fibrosis; and the third is mesothelioma, a rare, malignant tumour of the pleura or peritoneum. All three conditions take many years to develop.

2. In circumstances in which asbestos is used in schools there would seem to be little, if any, risk of creating such heavy quantities of dust as to cause either asbestosis or cancer of the lung in later years. Even so, inhalation of any form of asbestos dust by pupils and teachers should be reduced to a minimum.

3. The occurrence of mesothelioma is associated especially with products made from one of the naturally occurring forms of asbestos, crocidolite (blue asbestos). Exposure to even low concentrations of dust may be hazardous. Present evidence suggests that the association of mesothelioma with asbestos derived from other naturally occurring forms of asbestos than crocidolite is exceptional. In view of the uncertainty about the subject it would seem proper to eliminate the use of crocidolite and crocidolite products and reduce the use of all other forms of asbestos by seeking a substitute wherever possible.

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4. Where it is necessary to use an asbestos product, chrysotile asbestos or chrysotile asbestos products should be specified, and steps taken to ensure that dust is reduced to a minimum. Asbestos wool should be kept wet and not allowed to dry out; hard asbestos mats should be used in preference to soft ones (mats should be disposed of when they become frayed); any drilling or sawing of asbestos cement products should be carried out in the open air or under exhaust ventilation, ensuring that the exhaust is effectively filtered before discharge, so that serious hazard cannot arise.

5. The Secretary of State asks local education authorities and other responsible bodies to ensure the most careful regulation of the use of asbestos products within all types of educational establishments.