What are the Health Risks of Asbestos?
It wasn’t until the latter half of the 20th century that the UK public became aware of the health risks of asbestos. Until then it had been used extensively in the construction industry as an insulating material, and anyone working in shipbuilding, railways, heating engineers, or building would have been regularly exposed to it.
Despite the increased awareness, it would take a few more decades for asbestos to be completely banned for use in construction materials. By the time the ban came into force in 1999, many thousands of people were living with the legacy of asbestos inhalation. To this day the HSE reports over 5,000 deaths from asbestos associated health conditions each year.
Why Is Asbestos So Harmful?
Asbestos fibres are a naturally occurring mineral. The fibres can be white, blue, or brown and they’re excellent insulators, as well as being fire and chemical-resistant. Whilst all the tyes of asbestos are potentially harmful, white asbestos is considered particularly hazardous.
Materials containing asbestos are safe unless they’re damaged or disturbed. If this occurs, microscopic asbestos fibres are released into the air which can easily be inhaled and potentially lodge in the lungs.
What Health Problems are Caused by Asbestos Inhalation?
Most of the asbestos-related deaths currently being recorded by the HSE are the result of sustained exposure to asbestos in the workplace. These include:
- Asbestosis. Long term exposure to asbestos can cause scarring of the lungs.
- Mesothelioma. A rare form of pleural cancer associated with asbestos.
- Lung Cancer. There is a form of lung cancer caused by asbestos fibres.
- Pleural Effusions. Chronic breathing problems caused by fluid around the lungs.
Do I Need to Remove Asbestos Containing Materials From My Home?
If your home was built prior to 1999 it’s likely that ACMs were used in its construction. In normal circumstances the best course of action is to leave them in place, as they will do no harm if undisturbed.
Should you be planning a refurbishment, or major DIY, it would be advisable to have an asbestos management survey carried out. This is a visual inspection that locates potential ACMs in your home, and provides analysis of damaged, or disturbed asbestos.
Who is Responsible for Asbestos in the Workplace?
If your workplace was constructed prior to 1999, the owner or building manager is responsible for asbestos management. An asbestos survey is a visual inspection by specialists, with the goal of locating ACMs and testing and damaged or disturbed asbestos containing materials. This provides data for ongoing risk management, particularly if refurbishment or building works are planned.
Working With Avanti
We are licensed providers of asbestos removals in the North-West of England. Our work necessarily includes asbestos management surveys in residential, commercial and industrial environments. All our surveys are carried out by UKAS accredited consultants, and any testing of asbestos materials occurs within UKAS accredited labs.
If you have questions about the health risks of asbestos, or you would like to book an asbestos survey, call Avanti today on 0333 3355974.