Asbestos has been around for hundreds of years and was a popular material to use by manufacturers and builders due to its durable properties and qualities. However, many people have started asking asbestos questions as many illnesses have been linked to its use. Below are 15 of the top asbestos frequent questions asked by people.
1. What exactly is asbestos?
Asbestos is a group of fibrous minerals that occur naturally in the earth. They are grouped into two different mineral types called serpentine and amphibole. The main type of serpentine asbestos is chrysotile (white) and amphibole (blue and brown).
2. Why was asbestos used?
The chemical and physical properties of asbestos made it a high strength, flexible, heat resistant product that was good for thermal and electrical insulation properties. It does not dissolve in water or evaporate and is unaffected by chemical and biological break down.
3. Where was asbestos used?
Asbestos was most commonly used and a huge range of building materials, manufactured products and in heat resistant fabrics. It was used extensively for insulating houses against noise and cold weather and can be found in common materials such as roof shingles, floor tiles, plaster and felt
4. What are the concerns about asbestos?
When asbestos is dry it can be crumbled, powdered and ground which can cause some of the small fibres to be released into the air as dust. When this dust is inhaled especially during manufacturing and being used it can cause health issues
5. When does asbestos become a risk to me?
Asbestos becomes a risk when it is inhaled into the lungs. The risk of damage is increased by a number of factors including how much and how long you were exposed for, the age and smoking habits of the person, how long since you were exposed and the type of fibres you inhaled. Long term exposure gives the highest risk of developing health issues.
6. What are the health problems related to asbestos?
When asbestos fibres are inhaled they are carried to the low region of the lungs and cause many respiratory problems. Diseases such as asbestosis (chronic lung disease) and pleura (irritation of the chest lining) are common in those exposed to asbestos. Long term inhalation has been associated with lung cancer and mesothelioma cancer.
7. How do I know if I have asbestos in my house?
You can’t tell if a product has asbestos in it just by looking, you will need to send a sample to be analysed. As mentioned it is commonly found in insulation, building materials and asbestos cement products. If you are working or moving products that relate to this then it is best to get a sample tested.
8. What should I do if I find asbestos in my house?
Depending on the condition and type of asbestos found will affect how you deal with it. If the asbestos material is safely bonded in the material it is being used with and there is no danger of fibres becoming airborne then it is safe to leave. If you are going to disturb the material or it is damaged then it will need to be removed from your houses so a specialised expert will need to come in.
9. What should I do if I have been exposed to asbestos?
Diseases related to asbestos coming from inhaling the dust so if you have had long term exposure to this then it is worth a chat with your doctor. The effects of exposure to asbestos can take years to appear in the body so you will need to be closely monitored. Research indicates that a low level exposure is likely to be insignificant to having an effect on health.
10. Is all asbestos high risk?
Asbestos itself is not high risk; the problem starts when it becomes dry and turns to dust. So asbestos is fine to have in your house as long as it is secure and not damaged or able to leak dust. If there is a danger of this then there is a risk to people in the house so should be removed
11. What occupations have been linked to asbestos exposure?
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration have created a list of workplaces that may be of concern. This includes; mechanics who deal with brake and clutch repairs, insulation workers, sheet metal factories, construction workers, those involved in the mining of asbestos and millers who process it. People who work in marinas and boat yards also need to be wary of any ships they are renovating or demolishing as could contain large amounts of asbestos.
12. Is asbestos banned?
Since 1983 asbestos has been completely banned in 39 countries including the EU, Argentina, Australia and Saudi Arabia. Other countries are phasing ii out or restricting what it is used for. Canada is regulating the use of it by introducing Consumer and Environmental Acts.
13. How do I dispose of asbestos?
Avoid trying to dispose of asbestos yourself as will put you and anyone in the house at risk. A qualified removal specialist will have to come to get rid of any traces. Make sure they have the correct insurance cover to protect them from any asbestos issues
14. What is an asbestos register?
All non-domestic buildings including the common areas of flats must have by law an asbestos register. This shows where there are any areas that have asbestos containing material in the building. Anyone that needs to do work on the building can check this register to make sure they won’t disturb the asbestos
15. What is an asbestos survey?
An asbestos survey is what is carried out in order to produce an asbestos register. There are two different types. A management survey is to get an idea of any risk and make a plan to manage any areas containing asbestos. The second is a pre demolition survey which will identify any asbestos that will need to be specially removed from the building before work can be completed