Published Friday, 29 June 2012
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It is understood that work carried out at Bloomfield Collegiate School for girls in east Belfast in 2001 may have caused the damage to the insides of cupboards in the former Preparatory Department.
That means the damaged asbestos has gone undetected for 11 years.
The PHA is working with the Health and Safety Executive, and the building involved - which is separate from the main school - has been closed as a precautionary measure.
It is not known what asbestos conditions prevailed in the Preparatory School in the past.
Parents and staff have already been briefed within the past week on the health risks associated with exposure to asbestos, with a series of information sessions having been held in the school.
According to the school, "every effort" has been made to contact past Prep pupils who may have been affected.
"The school is also writing to advise past senior school pupils, who may have carried out some school activities in the Prep building," a statement added.
Asbestos is used in many products and is only hazardous when it is in loose form, damaged or otherwise releasing fibres into the air.
Health problems related to asbestos may take many years to manifest and there are no clinical tests to identify exposure, apart from long-term evidence of damage caused by fibres within the lungs.
The PHA would like to reassure the public that there is no immediate risk to public health.
Public Health Agency
Not everyone who is exposed develops health problems, dependent on several factors - including the amount and type of asbestos and the duration of exposure.
A factsheet on asbestos has been produced by the PHA which was circulated to all staff and parents of children at the school and is available online.
A confidential PHA email facility has also been set up to address general public health concerns following the asbestos incident at Bloomfield Collegiate.
Queries sent to firstname.lastname@example.org will be dealt with by a PHA Health Protection Consultant.