Many myths persist about asbestos. “Small amounts are harmless”, “It is easy to identify” or “You can safely remove it simply by wearing a mask”. The fact is, it is deadly and the myths surrounding it are, themselves, potentially hazardous, if they lead people to under-estimate its threat.
Is Asbestos A Miraculous Mineral?
Like many things now recognised as dangerous, asbestos was at one time seen as an enormously beneficial material. It is strong, lightweight and heat-resistant. Its fibres can mix with other materials and be shaped into many different forms. As a naturally occurring mineral, mining for asbestos boomed in the 19th century alongside the industrial revolution. Soon manufacturers began incorporating it into an ever-growing number of products.
“Asbestos has been common in building materials such as boarding, cement products, textured coating and tiles,” Gemma Voaden of Manchester-based asbestos detection and removal specialists All Survey points out.
Many buildings will still have asbestos-based materials, such as pipe insulation, ceiling boards, toilet cisterns and floor tiles. The danger is that people see it as something from the past when, in fact, it is very much present in the here and now”
Gemma Voaden, All Survey
Is Asbestos Too Easy to Ignore?
How well is the presence of asbestos being managed on a national level? If a construction company or local firm of builders goes into a building to begin refurbishments, how prepared are they for the threat of asbestos?
“Asbestos can be pretty much embedded in places we work and live,” Gemma explains. “This makes it really dangerous when it comes to someone carrying out otherwise routine work and suddenly disturbing it.”
Disturbing it releases its fibres into the air. If these are breathed in, then they can cause fatal lung diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. They are also the cause of asbestosis. Around 5,000 people a year, in the UK, die from asbestos-related diseases.
“A survey by the British Lung Foundation found that 45% of homeowners did not realise that asbestos was used as a building material,” Gemma says. “Raising awareness for everyone about its dangers, and the sheer range of materials it can be found in, is vital, on a national level.”
All Survey is currently campaigning for a national asbestos register, in order to help protect people from the continuing threat of asbestos in buildings and materials throughout the UK. For more information, and to sign the petition, please click here.
Alternatively, to find out if your property is asbestos-free, please call All Survey on 0161 628 2555 or visit allsurvey.co.uk