What is asbestos?
Asbestos is the common name for any variety of silicate materials that are fibrous in structure and are more resistant to acid and fire than other materials.
There are three main types of asbestos found in the UK which include crocidolite (blue), amosite (brown) and chrysotile (white).
Because of its properties asbestos was extensively used for all sorts of items such as ceiling panels, fireproofing, decorative plaster, insulation and pipe lagging and even fire blankets. However, the inhalation of asbestos fibres can have severe and life threatening results. The tiny fibres are able to penetrate deep into the body causing cancer of the lungs and throat and conditions such as Asbestosis and Mesothelioma.
While restrictions on the use of asbestos were introduced in 1969, leading to eventual prohibition on its use in the UK, due to its extensive usage this has not removed the risk of exposure. It is estimated that around 3000 - 4000 people die every year from asbestos related conditions.
As asbestos does not pose a risk to health unless it is damaged or disturbed and the fibres released are inhaled, the people most at risk are Electricians, Plumbers, Carpenters, Alarm Installers, Painters and Decorators - in short anybody who works in the Construction industry.
You can obtain further general advice and guidance on asbestos from Public Protection
The Health and Safety Executive
Tel: 029 20 263000