Members of the Uasin Gishu County Assembly have expressed concerns over a number of schools within the Eldoret Municipality that are still using banned asbestos roofing.
The MCAs say such schools were exposing students, teachers, non-teaching staff, and members of the public living nearby to health risks.
They have now passed a motion asking the County Government of Uasin Gishu to ensure all the asbestos roofing in schools is removed and replaced with safe roofing as per a directive by the Ministry of Health.
In the motion moved by Nominated MCA Catharine Barmao, the department of health has been directed to conduct an inspection of all schools within the municipality to identify all that are yet to replace their asbestos roofing.
“We still have some buildings with asbestos roofing like schools and hospitals and it is very risky. Exposure to asbestos leads to many cancer and non-cancerous diseases,” Barmao noted.
A majority of schools build during the colonial period used asbestos roofing that was later declared unsafe as breathing in asbestos fibers can cause asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
The risk of contracting these diseases increases with the number of fibers inhaled and the risk of lung cancer from inhaling asbestos fibers is also greater if you smoke.
People who get health problems from inhaling asbestos have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos for a long time. The symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos.
Nominated MCA Leah Menjo seconded the motion saying; “Most of the schools within the municipality were roofed with asbestos and there was a directive from the Ministry that all houses and schools with these iron sheets be removed. Most schools have done so but several have not yet complied with the directive.”
Kenya banned the use of asbestos roofing in 2006 and directed houses with the roof to be replaced gradually – a process that is still ongoing.