What is Asbestos and why was it used?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used in construction for thousands of years. It was a cheap, convenient material used in buildings for its strength, ability to add insulation and fire resistance.
The use of asbestos was widespread in the 1930s – 1960s. For many years the reported dangers of asbestos were ignored, particularly by the construction industry. It wasn’t until the 70s that regulations came into force once the dangers of asbestos were more known.
What are the dangers of asbestos?
Asbestos is very harmful to human health. Once released into the air and breathed in, asbestos particles can remain in the lungs for many years and cannot be removed. In the worst cases asbestos exposure can lead to lung disease and cancer. Symptoms do not always present themselves until many years down the line, which is what makes it so hard to spot.
There is no safe level of asbestos exposure, however most problems occur with repeated exposure.
It is important to remember that buildings built with asbestos are generally safe. The risk to health only occurs when the asbestos has been disturbed.
Use of asbestos was not fully banned until 1999, so houses and buildings built up until this period could still have asbestos containing materials present.
If you are concerned, you can put yourself at ease with an inspection from a reputable asbestos survey company.
Who is at risk from asbestos?
The people most at risk from asbestos are those doing work in old buildings such as roofers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers and even homeowners doing DIY.
People may come into contact with asbestos through drilling, or cutting into walls or removing roof tiles.
As a building owner, especially commercially, proper steps must be taken to manage the risks associated with asbestos.
There is far less chance of coming into contact with asbestos containing materials today. Strict regulations help to protect workers. By knowing that asbestos is present procedures can be put in place to keep people working on older buildings safe.
If you are not sure whether your home contains asbestos or not, it is safest to not drill or cut until you are sure that the area is safe.
Asbestos is still present in many buildings and there is still a risk that should not be ignored, even for homeowners.