Asbestos – The Magic Mineral with an Evil Dust
Asbestos is a fibrous silicate material that occurs naturally. There are six different varieties, all of which are made up of long, thin crystals. With many microscopic “fibrils” that can be released into the environment. Inhalation can cause a variety of hazardous lung illnesses. Making it a well-known health and safety issue.
The versatility of asbestos lead to it becoming a hugely popular component in construction materials during the last century. So much so it became known as the ‘magic mineral’. During the post war era (ACMs) were very widely used, reaching a peak in 1973. Their use wasn’t totally banned until 1999 despite its links to fatal lung disease being known since the early 1900’s.
We now have strict regulations on working with asbestos, however, there are still approximately 5000 deaths per year from related diseases. Statistics on how many buildings still contain some form of asbestos are hard to come by. But given its popularity and durability it is likely to be many thousands.
In its stable form asbestos poses little threat. However if its fibres are released it needs to be handled according to protocols set out by the Health and Safety Executive. (https://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/). In simple terms the advice is:
• LEAVE – When the ACM is in good condition leave it alone.
• ENCLOSE – Damaged ACMs might be repairable by sealing or enclosing them.
• REMOVE – If the ACM is badly damaged and beyond repair it needs to be removed in accordance with advice from your local Environmental Health Team.
For further Asbestos information and guidance see:
To Find out how Elite Waterproofing can help you take a look at some of our Asbestos Projects