Asbestos Risks

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a term for a group of six naturally occurring minerals that are made up of tiny microscopic fibres. These fibres are appropriately named Chrysotile, Crocidolite, Amosite, Anthophyllite, Tremolite, and Actinolite. The most common asbestos fibres often found in the UK are Chrysotile, Crocidolite and Amosite.

Asbestos material was often used in buildings, roofing, insulation, flooring and even sprayed on ceilings. It is now completely BANNED for use within the UK.

Although asbestos fibres are extremely small in nature, they are very tough and can resist extreme heat and most chemical reactions, which is one of the main reasons asbestos was the material of choice and used in buildings, roofs, walls, flooring, cement, textiles and even vehicle parts. It is now common knowledge that asbestos is now firmly regulated, as exposure to broken fibres are directly linked to various lung and respiratory illnesses, including mesothelioma.

Close-up Dirty Moldy Corrugated Roof
Disposal of Asbestos Material

Where is Asbestos Found?

Asbestos can be found in all types of residential or industrial buildings that had been built or refurbished before the year 2000. It can be found in many materials and was largely used in the construction industry for many years, before its complete BAN in 1999.

Asbestos in the Home

Many homes built before 1999 could contain asbestos in old floor tiling, roof shingles, insulation, pipe cement and around boilers. The different techniques that are used for dealing with asbestos in your home depends on where the asbestos is found, the condition it is in and whether it is Fibrous or bonded.

Friable asbestos can quite easily be crumbled or broken down into a powdery substance and become airborne, which can be a real problem! Non-friable asbestos is more condensed and usually combined with another material so its fibres are more difficult to breakdown and less of a danger, unless they are sawed, cut, broken or sanded down. If you think you have an asbestos problem in your home, call us on 01684 303 470.

Asbestos and your Business

Since the Control of Asbestos Regulation Act 2012, it is now a legal requirement for industrial and commercial buildings to have an asbestos management plan. As a business owner, you have a duty of care to your employees and must make every effort to make sure that your workforce isn’t exposed to asbestos. If you think you or your business is at risk, please contact us on 01684 303 470.

The Health Risks

The use of asbestos rapidly declined in the late 1970’s, once it become clear that asbestos caused a serious threat towards people’s health. Today, asbestos comes under the classification of a known human carcinogen, meaning a substance that is directly involved in causing cancer. There are three serious lung conditions directly associated with asbestos exposure; Lung Cancer, Asbestosis and Mesothelioma.

Lung cancer is usually related to excessive tobacco usage, is known to be worsened by exposure to asbestos fibres. Common symptoms include chest pains, coughing and trouble with breathing.

Mesothelioma is a rare and quite aggressive form of lung cancer affecting the cavity lining of the lungs.

Asbesosis is a deteriorating, progressive and long term respiratory disorder. Asbestosis occurs from the formation of scarring affecting the tissue in the lungs, directly associated with breathing in asbestos fibres.

Rough brown asbestos stone on dark background.Rough brown asbestos stone on dark background.
Old asbestos-cement roof of a dilapidated agricultural building.

Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos fibres are extremely small in size, approximately .02 the width of a human hair, meaning they can be easily inhaled. Once these hazardous fibres are inhaled the micro fibres stick to the body’s respiratory system, including the delicate lining of the lungs and internal cavity tissues. These fibres are usually rigid and become wedged in the soft inner tissue of the respiratory system, in turn making them very difficult the for body to break down.

Thousands of people have been exposed to asbestos and may still be unaware of the fact. This is a direct result of the products widespread use in residential, commercial and industrial buildings. Nearly all people with exposure history are at risk of various respiratory health issues.

Asbestos exposure is hazardous, however, not all asbestos products are inherently dangerous. Asbestos fibres have to be inhaled to represent an immediate risk, only loose or disturbed micro fibres within the air present a real risk. Stable, or undisturbed asbestos compounds, including cement, tiling or roofing are normally not an immediate hazard. Fibres can become airborne once disturbed and are common were grinding, chipping or demolishing has taken place, each one of these functions can potentially release asbestos into the surrounding atmosphere.

The Law

The Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012 is key piece of legislation that covers the prohibition of asbestos as well as the control of asbestos products at work and the licensing of work on asbestos materials.