What are the dangers of Asbestos?

The term asbestos is not an uncommon one, but what does it actually mean? Well, asbestos was a building material used in insulation, boilers, and pipes between the years 1930 – 1985 before the dangers of asbestos were known. The use of most types of asbestos was banned in 1985, with white asbestos later being banned in 1999. Asbestos was strong, cheap, and resistant to the effects of chemicals, water, and electricity. This meant that it was a very desirable material for construction companies during the 20th century.

What does asbestos have to do with me?

Although asbestos hasn’t been used in over 20 years in the UK, the effects are still very apparent today. Many buildings in the UK, still have ACMs (asbestos-containing materials) and when disturbed, these materials become airborne. When airborne, these materials enter the body through inhalation. The HSE has estimated that Asbestos claims over 5000 deaths in the UK each year. Exposure to asbestos can lead to mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, and more.

The symptoms of asbestos-related illnesses can take up to 20-30 years to appear. Alternatively, some symptoms that may appear include: chest pains, coughing, fatigue, and weight loss. These symptoms are easily missed or mistaken for another illness.

Dangers of asbestos being showcased

How can asbestos be eradicated?

In order to eliminate any ACMs, an asbestos survey must be carried out. An asbestos survey identifies he: location, condition, and type of any and all ACMs present. There are 4 types of asbestos surveys that you may require. These are:

Asbestos Management Survey – This survey was previously known as a Type 2. Its purpose is to locate, as far as reasonably practicable, the presence and extent of any suspect ACMs in the building that could be disturbed during normal occupancy.

Pre-Refurbishment Asbestos Survey – Previously known as the type 3 survey, this must be carried out before any refurbishments can be started. The aggressive operations of this survey, means that the building cannot be occupied or if residency is required immediately after.

Pre-Demolition Asbestos Survey – This has also replaced the old Type 3 survey. Prior to any demolition work taking place, a refurbishment and demolition survey must be completed.

Asbestos Re-inspection Services – Once ACMs have been identified, it is the duty holder’s responsibility to inspect these items (at least annually) and create a Management Plan.

What if asbestos is found?

It’s important to remember that an asbestos survey is just the first step. If any ACMs have been found then it is imperative that a management plan be carried out. Any repairs or removals must be carried out by a qualified professional, they should only be carried out by skilled individuals with the right equipment. There’s no need to worry if asbestos is found, it can be managed effectively. The dangers of asbestos are now known. This means that the risks can be safely managed and minimised. The management plan should be assessed every twelve months to ensure the safety of all occupants, as well as the safety of the building.