June 8 2012

Asbestos for Dummies

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material and has been a popular building material since the 1950’s.

It’s likely that some parts of any building will contain Asbestos in any building that was built or refurbished before the year 2000.

Asbestos is found in many products, it’s most common uses being;

  • Roof gutters & downpipes – these can often be manufactured using asbestos  cement
  • Water tanks – pre 1980 were usually made with asbestos cement
  • House insulation – loose insulation can be found in lofts or wall/floor cavities
  • Textured coating e.g. Artex – used mainly on ceilings
  • Toilet cisterns – toilet cisterns could contain asbestos-reinforced resin
  • Wall panelling – Asbestos can be found as external wall cladding and internal wall panelling, particularly around windows
  • Soffits – these can contain asbestos cement or AIB (Asbestos Insulation Board)
  • Heater cupboards – the heater cupboard that contains a domestic boiler can often contain AIB (Asbestos Insulating Board)
  • Fuse boxes – the panel behind a fuse box can contain asbestos
  • Garages – garage roofs can often be manufactured using corrugated asbestos cement

There are three main types of Asbestos

  • Chrysotile (white)
  • Amosite (brown)
  • Crocidolite (blue)

Blue & brown asbestos were banned in 1985 white asbestos wasn’t banned until 1999.

The most common Asbestos related diseases are;

  • Asbestosis- symptoms include an extreme shortness of breath and there is an increased risk of lung cancer. Asbestosis is not always fatal but extremely debilitating.
  • Mesothelioma- symptoms include shortness of breath, cough and chest pain. Mesothelioma is always fatal with a life expectancy of 6-24 months from diagnosis.
  • Lung Cancer-  symptoms include shortness of breath and coughing up blood. Lung Cancer is nearly always fatal.
  • Pleural Plaques- this occurs when fibres become lodged in the lung tissue & and damage the inside of the pleural membrane which causes inflammation and scarring.

Asbestos normally presents no problem as long as the asbestos is in good condition and is not disturbed or misused.

Asbestos is only dangerous when it’s deteriorated to the point where its tiny fibres can be released into the air and inhaled. If the material is solid (in appearance and to touch) and maintained in good condition, it presents no problem.

If you are concerned that any products in your home may contain Asbestos then please contact Midlands Asbestos Solutions and we would be happy to offer advice & a free quotation for the removal of any Asbestos that may pose a risk.