Classrooms and corridors in 418 public schools, ranging from kindergartens to high schools, had exposed asbestos-sprayed walls and ceilings as of last month despite the government’s order to take safety measures, according to an education ministry survey released Thursday.
Ahead of the release of the survey results, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology had ordered prefectural boards of education to take safety measures, including discontinuing the use of the facilities.
The ministry surveyed 43,588 public educational facilities up to the high school level and said 4,137 contained sprayed asbestos.
Of them, 3,179 have taken protective measures or present no risk of airborne asbestos, leaving 418 containing sprayed asbestos with no protective measures.
Of the 418, eight were kindergartens, 160 were elementary schools, 89 were junior high schools and 149 were high schools. Twelve were schools for students with special needs. The names of the schools were not released.
By prefecture, 85 of the 418 facilities were in Aichi, 43 in Saitama and 39 in Osaka.
The ministry started the survey in July and released interim reports in September and November. The results released Thursday apply to data as of this February but leave out some private schools where the ministry has yet to complete the survey.
Of the total 151,925 educational facilities across Japan, the survey covered 151,626.
Of the total facilities covered in the survey, 958, or 0.6 percent, including the 418 public schools, were judged as posing a risk of airborne asbestos.
In addition, the ministry surveyed the presence of asbestos-containing cooking equipment in 16,913 school canteens. As of the end of January, it had identified 412 canteens with such cooking equipment, including pots with asbestos-containing insulating material that poses a risk of inhalation to humans.
Asbestos, a known carcinogen, was widely used decades ago as an insulation material for houses and buildings across the nation.
It was only last summer that asbestos-related deaths of workers who handled the material in the past started being reported, as companies repeatedly stepped forward to reveal asbestos fatalities.