For a long while, Asbestos was one of the most important building materials in the world. Because of its heat retardant properties and widespread availability around the world, it became part and parcel of construction in most countries across the globe.
Pick any property, commercial and domestic, that was built prior to 2000 and you will more than likely find areas where asbestos is still found. Whether it’s pipes, wall tiles or insulating board, the chances are you are sitting in a home surrounded by asbestos at the moment. While the dangers of this particular material have been well documented, the good news is that unless it is degraded or damaged, the asbestos is quite safe.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is found readily all across the world. When it started to become used in construction more often during the mid-19th century, asbestos mines cropped up almost everywhere from Canada and the UK to China and Australia. There are various different types of asbestos including white (the most common), brown and blue. The trouble with asbestos is that when it becomes degraded or is damaged it can release dangerous dust and fibres that cause major health problems such as cancer if there is long term exposure.
Find out more about asbestos.
History of Asbestos
If you think that asbestos is a fairly modern thing, then think again. We have been using it for over 4,500 years and it has, for the last 200 years, been preferred as a building material for its fire retardant properties. While the Prince of Persia may have used an asbestos tablecloth, it wasn’t until the industrial revolution that we began to see it used more in the building trade, factory processes and our general everyday lives.
Find out more about the history of asbestos.
Health and Safety Issues for Asbestos
As you might expect there are a number of health and safety issues that come with dealing with asbestos. This is particularly pertinent for builders and contractors who often might work on a house or office without realising that they are coming into contact with this dangerous substance. Taking the necessary safety precautions is important to avoid long term exposure. Over 4,000 people a year die from asbestos related health conditions caused by over exposure for long periods of time.
Find out more about health and safety issues for asbestos.
There are strict guidelines for the management of asbestos. This begins with having a care of duty for the property that you are in control of or have responsibility for. The legislation means that the level of asbestos must be ascertained in any non-domestic property such as a school, shop, office or factory to find out where potential problems may lie. The next part of the management process is making sure that regular checks are made of problem areas and action taken if, for example, the asbestos begins to degrade.
Find out more about asbestos management.
With a hazard such as asbestos there is a wide range of protective equipment available. This ranges from the masks and protective clothing you would expect to more hi-tech decontamination units that make sure contractors remove any asbestos dust safely and securely. Removal of asbestos from a place like a school can be a major undertaking and requires the right equipment if everything is to be done properly.
Find out more about asbestos equipment.
Legislation and Asbestos
There is robust legislation surrounding the handling and disposal of asbestos and you need to have a license to undertake this kind of activity. There are non-licensed examples of asbestos handling but these are only for low risk circumstances where there is not much threat to health. In the majority of cases, contractors have to put the right measures in place, including protective equipment and staff training to make sure that asbestos is disposed of safely.
Find out more about legislation and asbestos.
Asbestos Removal Services
There are a number of professional asbestos removal services available across the UK and all contractors need to be registered to handle and dispose of this kind of waste. If you have a problem with asbestos, then you can check our online asbestos removal service database to find someone in your area who can help.
Find out more about asbestos removal services.