What is Asbestos ?
Everything you need to know about asbestos
Despite what many may think, asbestos is not a man-made material. Rather, it is a naturally-occurring fibrous material found in the ground, which was mined all around the world but particularly in large quantities in Canada, Russia, and South Africa.
It became known as a ‘Wonder Material’ because of properties including:
- Good thermal insulation
- Stable at high temperatures
- Good electrical insulation
- High tensile strength
- Does not degrade over time
- Chemical resistant
- Mechanically strong & can be woven
This meant it became extremely popular as a building material, particularly between the 1950s and 1980s, and there was scarcely a building in the UK constructed between these times that did not contain asbestos to at least some degree.
However, research later proved a link between asbestos and lung diseases such as Asbestosis (which affects your ability to breathe), Lung Cancer, and Mesothelioma (a rare and even more deadly cancer of the lung lining and chest wall).
It consequently dropped out of favour before being completely banned as a building material in the UK in 1999. Sadly, due to the large quantities that were used during the heyday of asbestos, the HSE estimates that 5,000 people die in the UK each year due to asbestos-related diseases. This figure is predicted to rise to 10,000 per annum in the coming years. This makes asbestos the single biggest workplace killer in the world.
Our modern day awareness of the dangers of asbestos is the reason why asbestos management and asbestos removal and disposal has become so important.
For any needs related to asbestos surveys and asbestos removals in Hampshire, Surrey, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Dorset, Bolton, West Sussex, Sheffield, West Midlands, Cheshire, Preston, Lancaster, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Kent, Plymouth, Derbyshire, and Greater London, Total Demolition Services. are here to help – expert, efficiently, and professionally, but at some of the most competitive rates available.
Why is asbestos so dangerous
Asbestos is dangerous because of how it contains tiny cancer-causing fibres that are released into the air when it is damaged or disturbed.
These fibres are tiny – roughly 600 times thinner than a human hair – and so they cannot be easily detected or avoided. However, inhalation over a prolonged period of time can be deadly, and by the time as asbestos-related disease is diagnosed, it is usually too late and the prognosis is fatal.
The primary diseases caused by asbestos are:
- Asbestosis- scarring of lung tissue that eventually restricts one’s ability to inhale.
- Lung Cancer – with the risk being some 50 times greater for those who smoke
- Mesothelioma – a rare and even more deadly type of cancer of the lung lining and chest wall
What if I’ve been exposed to asbestos?
It is important to note that the risk of Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma increases with the number of asbestos fibres inhaled over time. Those who develop asbestos-related diseases have usually (but not always) been exposed to high levels of asbestos for a prolonged period of time.
Particularly at risk are those who would have come into contact with Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) that were sawed, scraped, sanded, etc., such as construction workers and shipyard workers who handled ACMs during the peak of its popularity. Tradesmen who frequently work on buildings constructed between the 1950s and 1980s continue to be at risk.
Most people exposed to small levels of asbestos, as we all are, do not develop asbestos-related disease. However, that is no cause for complacency, as even small levels of asbestos fibre inhalation can cause health problems for some. And worryingly, symptoms do not quickly show up. It usually takes between 20 and 30 years from first exposure to asbestos for them to develop to a noticeable point.
Symptoms of asbestos-related disease
Symptoms of asbestos-related disease include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Shortness of breath
- A persistent cough or a change in cough pattern
- Blood in the fluid coughed up
- Pain in the chest or abdomen
- Difficulty in swallowing or prolonged hoarseness
- Significant weight loss
People who have been exposed to asbestos and who develop such symptoms should immediately inform their doctor. Medical examinations, including a lung function test and a chest X-ray, may be required. It is important to also give your medical practitioners as much information as possible about the circumstances and duration of your exposure to asbestos.
The Health & Safety Executive estimates there are 5,000 asbestos-related deaths in the UK each year, and that this figure will rise to 10,000 per annum in the coming years.
This is why asbestos management and asbestos removal and disposal has become so important.
For any needs related to asbestos surveys and asbestos removals in Hampshire, Surrey, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Dorset, Bolton, West Sussex, Sheffield, West Midlands, Cheshire, Preston, Lancaster, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Kent, Plymouth, Derbyshire, and Greater London
We are able to provide any level of survey required, up to the Demolition and Refurbishment survey now required prior to the demolition of any building or structure.
The strategy of the HSE is to ensure that those involved in the repair, removal or disturbance of asbestos containing materials (ACMs), such as insulation coatings or insulation boards, are licensed & competent
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