Three major Welsh universities have confirmed that some of their student accommodation contains asbestos, and that they do not inform their students of its presence.

Cardiff University, Aberystwyth University and the University of Wales Trinity St David told BBC Wales that some of their accommodation buildings contain the potentially deadly material.

Cardiff University estimated that there are around 1,500 bedrooms where asbestos is present, while Aberystwyth and University of Wales Trinity St David said the material could be found in 1,088 and 443 rooms respectively.

All three universities claimed that because the asbestos was in areas deemed “low risk”, such as under carpets or in ceilings, they are compliant with legal safety standards, and as such it is not their policy to inform students that the material is present.

If left undisturbed, asbestos does not pose a significant risk. However, if its fibres are inhaled, it can lead to conditions such as asbestosis or mesothelioma, a fatal form of cancer.

Following the investigation, Cardiff and Trinity St David are both reviewing their policy on informing students of the presence of asbestos in accommodation.

Eamonn McDonough, regional head of asbestos litigation at Thompsons Solicitors in Wales said: “This news reveals shocking complacency around the dangers of asbestos. How can the safety of students be guaranteed if they are completely unaware that they are living with something so potentially dangerous? What is to stop them unknowingly disturbing the fibres if they stick something up on a wall or roll back a carpet?

“At Thompsons we regularly witness the terrible impact of asbestos related diseases, both on those exposed to it, and their loved ones.

“Students have a right to know about any risk relating to where they are living and for universities to withhold this information is irresponsible.”