Asbestos is the name for a group of naturally occurring silicate minerals that can be separated into fibres. These fibres are strong, durable, and resistant to heat and fire. The three main types of asbestos – blue, brown and white asbestos – can still be found in the workplace. There is no safe level of exposure and all types of Asbestos are dangerous.
Asbestos is more likely to be found in buildings built or refurbished before the year 2000. Anyone who is involved in building maintenance is potentially at risk if they disturb asbestos, as are family members living with those exposed to Asbestos. The danger lies in any activity that disturbs the asbestos fibres, including removal, drilling, sanding and cutting.
Asbestos can be found in many parts of a building including:
- fire protection of structural steel
- some paints and textured coatings
- thermal and acoustic insulation
- insulating boards used as fire protection on doors, around structural steel, wallboards and ceiling tiles
- water tanks, pipes and gutters.
- flat asbestos sheets used in partitioning
- asbestos cement used as corrugated roof panels
Around 4,000 people die each year from mesothelioma and asbestos related lung cancer – 11 people for every day of the year. Before the death rate declines, up to a quarter of a million people in Britain may have died due to asbestos exposure. There are up to six million tonnes of asbestos in schools, hospitals, ships, offices and factories – and the homes we live in.
Asbestos fibres can pass into the lungs where they can stay for many years. These tiny fibres can remain in the lungs for so long that they can lead to the development of asbestos-related diseases such as asbestosis (breathing difficulty) and mesothelioma (a type of cancer). There is no way to remove the fibres once they have reached the lungs and no cure for the diseases they cause.
Further Reading on Asbestos & Mesothelioma Compensation Claims
Mesothelioma on Wikipedia