Asbestos has been found in 80% of the schools examined in Warrington, Cheshire, amid warnings for all tradesmen, staff and children to beware of the dangerous material.

According to the Warrington Guardian, which made the FoI request, government figures show that an average 70% of school buildings across the UK contain asbestos, but that for many local authorities the figure could be higher.

Michael Lees, from campaign group Asbestos in Schools, has said: "You are aware that asbestos exists, but you are certainly not aware of the dangers and the fact that just the simple act of going to school, you can die of an industrial disease."

Asbestos was often used in buildings constructed before 2000, primarily for its heat resilient characteristics. It was commonly used for flooring, roofing and insulation, before being banned from use in the UK in  the year 2000. However, buildings constructed before this date may still have asbestos in them.

A spokesman for Warrington Borough Council said: “The presence of asbestos in school buildings is not uncommon and Warrington is no different to many other areas across the UK. However, we do take the issue of asbestos seriously and schools are required by health and safety legislation to manage safely the presence of asbestos within buildings and this is carried out in line with guidance provided by the HSE.“

Commenting on the report, Asons executive Thomas Fairclough said: “Awareness needs to be raised for circumstances where our children’s health is under threat. At Asons we deal with asbestos related illness claims on regular basis."

Tradespeople working in schools and other public buildings are urged to take extra care, and to have their say in a consultation currently being carried out into proposed changes to Asbestos legislation.