All Trades professionals have experience in all matters associated with asbestos. This includes, advice, testing and removal of the material. Read our help guide below, and if you feel you or anyone you know could be at risk to the effects of asbestos contact us to speak to one of experts.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos was extensively used as a building material in the UK from the 1950s through to the mid-1980s. It was used for a variety of purposes and was ideal for fireproofing and insulation. Any building built before 2000 (houses, factories, offices, schools, hospitals etc) can contain asbestos. Asbestos materials in good condition are safe unless asbestos fibres become airborne, which happens when materials are damaged.
Asbestos is not made, it is mined. There are three colours of asbestos that can be found in mines all across the world.
White asbestos, called chrysotile, comes from mines in Europe and United States.
Brown asbestos, called amosite, is commonly found in African mines.
Blue asbestos, called crocidolite, is found in South Africa and Australia.
Blue and brown asbestos have the potency to cause greater illness. On average blue asbestos has a risk about 500 times that of white asbestos for mesothelioma and 10-50 times as high for lung cancer. The equivalent risk ratio for brown asbestos is 100 for mesothelioma and the same as blue (10-50) for lung cancer. Health & Safety Exec 2009
Why Is It Dangerous?
Asbestos fibres are present in the environment in the UK so people are exposed to very low levels of fibres. However, a key factor in the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease is the total number of fibres breathed in. Working on or near damaged asbestos-containing materials or breathing in high levels of asbestos fibres, which may be many hundreds of times that of environmental levels could increase your chances of getting an asbestos-related disease.
When these fibres are inhaled they can cause serious diseases which are responsible for around 4000 deaths a year. There are four main diseases caused by asbestos: mesothelioma (which is always fatal), lung cancer (almost always fatal), asbestosis (not always fatal, but it can be very debilitating) and diffuse pleural thickening (not fatal).
Remember, these diseases will not affect you immediately but later on in life, so there is a need for you to protect yourself now to prevent you contracting an asbestos-related disease in the future. It is also important to remember that people who smoke and are also exposed to asbestos fibres are at a much greater risk of developing lung cancer.
Where Might I Find Asbestos?
See some of the places you may find asbestos below:
- Asbestos insulating board
- Loose asbestos in ceiling or floor cavaties
- Floor tiles, textiles and composites
- Central heating flues
- Bath panels
- Sprayed coatings on ceilings, walls and beams/columns
Source: Health & Safety Executive
What should I do if I believe asbestos is in my property?
It is very hard to identify asbestos, but if you suspect that you are living with asbestos:
- Don't panic and leave asbestos alone, it's safe unless it's damaged or disturbed
- Never sand, drill or saw asbestos materials
- Always seek professional advice before thinking of removing asbestos materials
- Do not attempt to remove asbestos lagging, spray coatings or insulation board by yourself. These materials can only be safely removed by a licensed contractor
- Sometimes it will be necessary to take a sample, for example to identify the type of asbestos. Only employ a suitably trained person to sample or do a survey of the premises
The above is a general help guide as to the effects of asbestos. Amounts and effects vary in different properties. Should you be concerned an All Trades Professional can give you informed advice specific to you.