Asbestos is a natural occurring mineral, common in the earth’s crust. The name originates from the Greek word for inextinguishable’. From the 1950s it was used extensively as a building material, due to its almost imperishable qualities.
However, it has serious risks to health, must be dealt with professionally, and is now banned as a construction material.
History & Health
Asbestos was used in thousands of products from general construction, to pottery, cigarette filters and candles. Most buildings built before 2000 probably contain asbestos.
Exposure to asbestos can result in a number of illnesses including:
- Lung cancer
- Diffuse pleural thickening
The number of people dying each year of illnesses resulting from exposure to asbestos currently stands at several thousand and is still rising; making asbestos the single largest cause of death due to a work related illness, according to the Health and Safety Executive.
Asbestos becomes a greater risk to health when the fibres become airborne, allowing them to be breathed in. This can be caused by damage, drilling or cutting. It takes many years, often decades, for the symptoms of exposure to become apparent. Once the asbestos fibres have entered the body and symptoms are eventually apparent, the effects are irreversible.
Preventing exposure to asbestos is key. If this is not possible, then exposure must be reduced to the lowest possible level.
Visit the HSE website for information.
Dealing with Asbestos
It’s difficult to recognise asbestos by sight alone. Don’t panic if you think you have asbestos in your home or garage. Equally, do not just ignore it. Certainly do not drill it, scrape it or cut it.
Seek qualified help from a professional company to determine the best course of action:
- The asbestos can sometimes remain in situ with a record made of its location and checks made periodically on its condition
- The asbestos can be sealed in using special protective products formulated for the asbestos industry
- The asbestos can be completely removed by a company holding a current asbestos removal licence
ACAD ensures its members are up-to-date with all licensing requirements and legislation; so you can rest assured any ACAD member company will adhere to your asbestos requirements.