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Asbestos Information

What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous silicate mineral popular in manufacturing and industry due to its strength, chemical and thermal stability. The most common varieties are Chrysotile (white), Amosite (Brown) and Crocidolite (blue).

Why is it dangerous?
When asbestos fibres are inhaled, most fibres are expelled, but some can become lodged in the lungs and remain there throughout life. Fibres can accumulate and cause scarring and inflammation. Significant exposure to any type of asbestos will increase the risk of lung cancer, mesothelioma and non-malignant lung and pleural disorders, including asbestosis and pleural plaques. There is usually a long delay between the first exposure to asbestos fibres and the diagnosis of disease; this ranges from between 15 to as many as 60 years.

Is asbestos still used?
The sale and use of asbestos containing products in the UK was finally prohibited in November 1999.

Should all asbestos containing materials be removed?
When these materials are in good condition and are not being disturbed they will not be releasing dangerous quantities of fibres. Unless the condition of the material deteriorates or becomes damaged it is recommended that they remain in-situ.

Where is asbestos found in buildings?
The different materials identified as containing asbestos are so numerous no finite list could be complied. Common uses for Asbestos include;

  • Loose asbestos packing between floors and in partition walls;
  • Sprayed (‘limpet’) asbestos on structural beams and girders;
  • Lagging on pipework and boilers, calorifiers, heat exchangers, etc;
  • Asbestos insulating board ceiling tiles, partition walls, service duct covers, fire breaks, heater cupboards, door panels, lift shafts linings, fire surrounds, soffits, etc;
  • Asbestos cement products such as roof and wall cladding, bath panels, boiler and incinerator flues, fire surrounds, gutters, rainwater pipes, water tanks, etc; and Other products such as floor tiles, mastics, sealants, decorative coatings, rope seals and gaskets (in pipework, millboard, paper products, cloth (fire blankets, etc) and bituminous products