Asbestos is present in buildings owned by Bristol’s universities, it has emerged.
Two decades ago, asbestos was banned in the UK amid health concerns but buildings constructed before 2000 may still contain it.
Both institutions have said they are dealing with the material but stress “no risk” is posed to students and staff.
The news comes after law firm Stephensons Solicitors LLP sent a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to a total of 106 universities, according to the Reach Data Unit.
Asbestos was widely used during construction until the 1970s, but it was banned in 1999 after it was confirmed that inhaling the fibres could cause life-threatening illnesses including lung cancer and mesothelioma.
The material is generally considered safe unless it is disturbed, which is when the fibres are released.
A University of Bristol spokesperson said: “Asbestos was commonly used in building construction up until the mid-1980s.
‘There is no risk’
“The age and listed heritage of the University of Bristol estate therefore means that some properties have Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs).
“Over the years, we have been clearing our properties of any remaining asbestos as we refurbish and maintain the campus with the help of specialist consultants and contractors.
“We maintain a register of buildings that contain asbestos and regularly assess and manage any risks.
“There is no risk to our staff, students, contractors or visitors and all of our buildings comply with building and safety regulations to ensure this always remains the case.”
A UWE spokesperson said: “As to be expected for an estate the size and age of UWE Bristol, asbestos is present in a number of areas.
“As part of our ongoing management of this issue, we carry out regular inspections to make sure that the asbestos remains in a safe condition
“A prioritised plan of work is being done on areas of the University’s estate where asbestos is present, and we are undertaking refurbishment and demolition surveys to ensure the material is removed and managed safely with no risk to students or staff.”
Mesothelioma UK head of services Liz Darlison suggested it should be a “national priority” to address asbestos in schools, colleges and universities.
Kate Sweeney, a partner in the personal injury team at Stephensons, said: “It’s not surprising due to the age of many of the country’s university buildings that an incredibly high number of universities have reported that they have asbestos present in the buildings on their estates.
“As thousands of new students start uni and undergraduates return to their studies, we are calling on universities to better inform students and staff if there is asbestos present on campus and the measures being taken to manage it.
“A consistent and clear message needs to be added to websites, student newspapers and department notice boards.”
For the latest news in and around Bristol, check back on Bristol Live’s homepage .