What is Asbestos and Why is it Harmful?

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Asbestos is a material that was commonly used in industry, construction, health care, educational, domestic and many publicly and privately owned premises since the early 1900’s.  The use of asbestos products significantly increased through the 20th century until brown and blue asbestos was banned in 1985.  White asbestos was continued to be used up until it was banned in 1999. Over 3000 products are known to have contained asbestos.

Widespread Asbestos Use

Due to the qualities of asbestos-containing products, there are still significant amounts in place around the UK in 2022, approximately 36000 schools still have asbestos-containing products and NHS trusts estimate 9 out of 10 of their premises still contain asbestos.  If left undisturbed and undamaged it is the best product for what it was designed to do.  However serious health hazards are created once it is disturbed or damaged. It can be harmful because, when damaged or disturbed, the microscopic fibres (2 million to the width of a human hair) are dispersed and released into the air, where they can be breathed in or ingested. This causes them to enter the lungs and or stomach where they can cause an array of health concerns, such as asbestosis (normally long term continuous exposure) and lung cancer which directly affects the lungs and mesothelioma which attacks the Meso layer that surrounds and protects every organ of the body. All asbestos diseases are incurable with Mesothelioma being the most aggressive, death normally occurs between 6 to 18 months after diagnosis.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibre, and in the UK, the three most common types of fibres; blue, brown, and white.  These fibres are resistant to acids which is why the human body cannot defend itself and the fibres remain in body tissue permanently brown and blue.  White asbestos is not totally resistant to acids hence it was continued to be used up until 1999.  The body can break it down eventually but it takes many many years allowing significant health issues to develop. 

When asbestos-containing material does need to be removed or otherwise disturbed it can only be done by highly trained competent people and many asbestos-containing materials require a licensed contractor to carry out the work.  Working with asbestos is highly regulated by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive. 

At Ice Asbestos, we can conduct asbestos surveying and asbestos removal services that will help make your home better, and safer. This blog post will examine why asbestos can be harmful, and why you should get in touch with us to survey your property right now.

Ways asbestos can be harmful #1. Deteriorating materials

1: What is it about asbestos-containing materials that can harm somebody?

When dormant and undisturbed asbestos poses a minimal threat, but once materials start to deteriorate over time, the fibres are released, and they can cause a lot of problems. 

2: How easy is it for somebody to be harmed?

It is very easy for somebody to be harmed because asbestos enters the lungs or the stomach by being breathed in or digesting asbestos contaminated substances, and you may not even be aware you are breathing in the fibres.

Ways asbestos can be harmful #2. Inhaling or ingesting whilst working 

1: What is it about asbestos fibres that can harm somebody?

Asbestos fibres are harmful because they become trapped in the body, where they can irritate and scar lung tissue and damage the lining of the lungs or stomach.

2: How easy is it for somebody to inhale asbestos or injest fibres?

These fibres can be inhaled easily when working with material containing asbestos, and this is why a commercial competent asbestos survey is so important. 

Ways asbestos can be harmful #3. Fibres in the attic

1: What is it about asbestos contained in an attic that can harm somebody?

Asbestos in the attic can be very harmful, especially as you may be spending a lot of time in the attic to store or remove things, and the presence of fibres can be harmful, making domestic asbestos removal essential. 

2: How easy is it for somebody to inhale ingest asbestos fibres from an attic?

It is incredibly easy to inhale or ingest asbestos fibres in your attic, especially if you are unaware that there are fibres in the attic, and if you are moving things that might dislodge fibres.

Ways asbestos can be harmful #4. Asbestos in the garage

1: What is it about asbestos contained in a garage that can harm somebody?

Garages are full of wonders and treasures, but they can also contain asbestos fibres that you may not even know about, and spending time in your garage around these fibres can be detrimental.

2: How easy is it for somebody to inhale asbestos from a garage?

Inhaling or ingesting asbestos in a garage is easily done, especially when moving items and dislodging fibres unwittingly. This is why rigorous asbestos testing is really important, and this is why you need to get in touch with us.

Simply put, carrying out the best possible asbestos survey is vital for helping achieve peace of mind, and looking after your health and wellness too.

There are a number of reasons why your commercial property might need to have an asbestos survey, and looking out for signs of trouble is a good place to start. If you have reason to suspect your property needs an asbestos survey, either by looking for the signs, or due to a tip off from the public, this is something you need to take action with right away. Get in touch with our team of experts who specialise in asbestos removal in London, Nottingham, Manchester and across the Midlands, and get the ball rolling with this as much as possible.

Remember to comply with Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 any commercial property has a statutory duty to manage asbestos on their premises. They must know where it is, what condition it is in, what risk it poses to the workforce and anybody affected and take appropriate action.

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