Asbestos is a group of fibrous minerals that occur naturally. There are six asbestos types that are collectively known for their insulating and fire-resistant properties. For this reason, asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were widely used in building in the UK and Europe between the 1950s and 1980s, although it may have been used as early in our history as ancient Egypt.
The UK Government banned some asbestos types from use in building and construction in 1985, but the reuse of the ‘white’ asbestos type was only banned in 1999. The EU banned asbestos in 2005 and any building built before that year (before 2000 in the UK) could contain asbestos, including homes, schools, offices and hospitals, and it is necessary to test for asbestos before any work is carried out in these properties.
Types of Asbestos
Although there are six types of asbestos minerals found in nature, most commercially available asbestos is grouped by its colour and known by a common trade name: white (known as chrysotile), brown (amosite) and blue (crocidolite). Asbestos was used for its fire-retarding and insulating properties and was often mixed with all sorts of building materials. It can be found in cement roofing and wall cladding, textured ceiling and wall coatings, floor tiles, insulating board, and it was even sprayed on pipes, within wall cavities and was used to lag pipes.
The Dangers of Asbestos
Whilst asbestos containing materials (ACMs) are left intact they are relatively harmless. However, when ACMs are disturbed, deteriorate, become damaged or are removed during demolition or renovation, this is when ACMs are most likely to release deadly asbestos fibres into the air and consequently when people will become exposed. All types of asbestos fibre are highly toxic when they are inhaled. There is no safe level of asbestos exposure.
However the more frequent your exposure to asbestos fibres and the higher the concentration of that exposure, the more likely you are to contract an asbestos related disease rather than from the exposure to just one asbestos fibre. Asbestos is classed as a Category 1 Human Carcinogen and for this reason; its use has been banned in most of the industrialised world.
Launching soon, the ALERT (Asbestos Location Equipment in Real Time) is the world’s first affordable portable warning device that gives workers a continuous test for airborne asbestos, alerting you to the potential presence of asbestos fibres in the working atmosphere. ALERT is like an asbestos ‘smoke alarm’, alerting workers and others to the presence of asbestos at work, in the home or in a work site, enabling users to take the necessary precautions and call in professional help.
To find out more about the ALERT warning device range and how they could help you or your business, contact us now for further information.