What is asbestos?
“Asbestos is a strong fibrous rock, which can resist heat and chemicals. It was commonly used in building materials between the 1950s and 1980s.
Asbestos was often used as fireproofing but also as a general building material. Almost all buildings built or changed during this period are likely to contain asbestos somewhere.
Products containing asbestos can look the same as those that do not. Often the difference can only be found under a microscope when tested in a special laboratory.” – Hastoe
BUT Asbestos was still used in building materials up to 2000.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a strong fibrous rock, which can resist heat and chemicals. It was commonly used in building materials between the 1950s and 1980s.
Asbestos was often used as fireproofing but also as a general building material. Almost all buildings built or changed during this period are likely to contain asbestos.
Products containing asbestos can look the same as those that do not. Often the difference can only be found under a microscope when tested in a special laboratory. – Hastoe
Why is asbestos so dangerous?
According to the HSE website – Asbestos kills around 5,000 people every year. Did you know this is more deaths than people killed on the road?
Around 20 tradesmen die every week due to exposure to asbestos.
When materials that contain asbestos are disturbed or damaged, fibres are released into the air. When these fibres are inhaled they can cause serious diseases. The most common diseases associated with asbestos is asbestosis, Lung cancer and mesothelioma.
These diseases will not affect you immediately; they often take a long time to develop, but once diagnosed, it is often too late to do anything. This is why it is important to be aware of the risks of Asbestos.
Many workers with high exposures to asbestos have died from these cancers.
It must be remembered that Asbestos materials only pose a risk when they are disturbed or damaged allowing the fibres to be released into the air. This could be as simple as sanding, drilling or breaking up any material that contains asbestos.
Where can you find asbestos inside a residential or business property?
Often asbestos-containing materials do not look any different from their more modern equivalents. It is important to understand the age and make of the product to identify if there could be a risk.
The HSE website is a great source of information http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/building.htm
Here are some familiar items that once contained asbestos;
- Textured decorative coating eg Artex
- Loose-fill insulation
- Pipe lagging
- Vinyl floor tiles
- Asbestos cement Water tank
- sprayed insulation g. coating boiler
- Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB) including ceiling tiles, partition walls, bath panels, fireproofing panels. AIB looks very similar to modern plasterboard just more fibrous.
- Gutters and downpipes
- Soffits and panels
- Roof panels and Roofing felt
Are you at risk?
The HSE website has clear information on who is most at risk to exposure to asbestos.
You need to understand if you are likely to have had repeated exposure to asbestos, which is much more likely in certain trades.
HSE reminds us that … “Asbestos can be found in any house or building built before the year 2000 as it was widely used in a variety of building materials.
If asbestos materials are in good condition, and in a place where they are unlikely to be disturbed, then they should not cause any harm.
It is only when the materials are damaged or disturbed, so that fibres are released, that asbestos can become a danger”.
- Shortness of breath
- Dry cough or wheezing
- Crackling sound when breathing
- Chest pain or tightness
- Respiratory complications
- Pleural effusion (accumulation of fluid surrounding a lung)
- Pleural plaques
- Pleural thickening