Understanding Asbestos And Its Dangers
Asbestos is a carcinogenic material which is made up of flexible fibres that are resistant to heat, electricity and corrosion. Because of these properties, asbestos is useful in many situations. Asbestos was once used in construction materials, as it is a great insulator. Furthermore, asbestos was used in cloth, paper, cement, plastic and other materials to make them stronger.
The flexible fibres that make asbestos a great building material, also make them extremely dangerous to human health. Inhaling or ingesting asbestos can cause the fibres to become trapped in the body. As time goes on, these trapped fibres can cause inflammation, scarring and in some cases, even cancer.
Key Facts About Asbestos
- Asbestos exposure happens in occupational settings, construction settings and in homes across the UK.
- Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and abdomen.
- Asbestos can also cause other cancers, it is linked to lung, ovarian and laryngeal.
- Asbestos was widely used across the UK until 1999, after which it was banned.
Who Is At Risk?
Anyone could be exposed to asbestos, but there are some people who are at considerably more risk. In the past, pipe fitters, shipyard workers, military personell, and mechanics were most at risk. However, as the use of asbestos was banned, it is now workers in the construction industry, the fire service, and renovation/demolition that are at risk of exposure. Blue collar workers and the general public can also be at risk, if renovation/demolition work is happening and the asbestos has not been managed correctly.
What Can You Do?
If you believe there might be asbestos in your home/workplace, you must arrange an asbestos survey.
An asbestos management survey is the standard survey, it is designed to locate asbestos containing materials (ACMs) in the building, which could potentially pose risk if damaged/disturbed during occupancy. An asbestos management survey will entail some intrusive work, the extent of which will depend on the individual property. This assessment will give a good initial guide, helping to decide how to manage the ACMs.
A reinspection asbestos survey is conducted once you already have an asbestos management plan. The reinspection asbestos survey is conducted at regular intervals, to periodically check on the condition of the asbestos. At minimum, reinspection asbestos surveys should be conducted every 6-12 months.
Demolition/refurbishment asbestos surveys are essential if demolition/refurbishment work is planned. This survey looks at all ACMs in the building, it will be fully intrusive and it will require access to all areas. This survey will need to be conducted before any work starts, to ensure the asbestos (if found) is managed appropriately.
Need to arrange an asbestos survey? We can let you know what type of survey you need, and we can book you in for a consultation to chat more about what is entailed. Just get in touch to find out more.