Category Archives: Asbestos and Public Places
Although (crocidolite) blues asbestos and (amosite) brown asbestos (considered the 2 most deadliest asbestos) are no longer mined and used today – remnants from the billions of tonnes which were widely used for insulation and fire- retardant properties in millions of homes and work places still exists.
For instance – asbestos can still be found in many buildings which were built prior to 1985, before it was banned from usage and no longer imported into Britain. Some of the more common places it can be found are on old pipes and boilers (used for thermal insulation), between wall cavities, ceiling panels, fire ducts, roofing, ( used as a fire retardant).
Approximately 13.000 schools in Britain contains asbestos, posing a health hazard to both staff and pupils. Government policy outlines – is for schools to manage the asbestos by sealing it with a silicone substance rather than having it removed. However – asbestos campaigners warn that the constant banging of school doors, and even sticking drawing-pins into walls (where asbestos boards exist ) can release millions of asbestos fibres and dust into the atmosphere. For instance – health and safety figures conclude that between 1991-2005, a staggering 228 teaching staff died from asbestos related disease.
Asbestos becomes more harmful when it is damaged or deteriorating with age. This is when it is referred to as being ‘friable’ – friable means that it has become dry and can be crumbled in your hand. In this condition – the asbestos material can release more fibres into the atmosphere increasing the risk of fibre inhalation. The photo below depicts detrioration/damage to asbestos pipe insulation and therefore is a health hazard.
Reducing your exposure to asbestos:
- Work Place
- Inspect your home for any deteriorating asbestos.If you cannot identify asbestos looking materials – Have an experienced contractor expect them.
- Do not attempt to disturb suspected asbestos materials. I.e. saw, drill, scrape or sand
- Do not attempt to remove the asbestos yourself – asbestos removal should only be carried out by licensed contractors.
Check to see whether your employer is adhering to health and safety regulations. You can access the ‘explanatory memorandum to the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006’ on the Parliament website. The Health and Safety Executive ‘HSE’ has also issued its own guidelines ‘HSE summary of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006’ available on the HSE website.
If you are clearly aware that you are working within close proximity to asbestos – ask your employer if the asbestos has been regulated and checked for safety, I.e. it has been sealed or contained to a safe and satisfactory standard. Criminal charges can be brought against employers under the ‘Environmental Protection Act 1990’ for misuse of asbestos.
What is the likelihood of what will happen if I have been exposed to asbestos?
Being exposed to asbestos does not necessarily mean that you will definitely develop an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. As this depends on how long you have been exposed to friable asbestos, how many fibres you have inhaled, and what type of asbestos fibres they were.
For instance – A plumber who has been unwittingly working a decade or more on water pipes, tanks, and boilers that have been covered in asbestos insulation, has a far more higher risk of developing an asbestos-related disease, than someone who has dismantled an old storage heater with asbestos in it.
As a rule of thumb – It is best that you try and minimise your risk of asbestos inhalation all together, as there is no definite guarantee of safety with light exposure to asbestos.
According to the ‘Health and Safety Executive’ (HSE) Approximately 750.000 homes and commercial buildings contain some asbestos if they were built prior to 1980. Asbestos – containing materials (ACM’s) become a health hazard when they are damaged or disturbed. They release asbestos fibres and dust into the air where they can be inhaled into the lungs. Asbestos fibres that are not coughed up out of lungs or not cleared by macrophages, medical evidence suggests that some asbestos fibres cannot be broken down my macrophages (a part of the body’s immune system that engulfs lung particles), and the fibres can cause an inflammatory response, disrupt normal cells, promote cell division and lead to an asbestos related disease such as mesothelioma.
The magnified picture below depicts an asbestos fibre and macrophages attempting to break it down.
If you have purchased a pre – 1980 property, there is a fair chance that you will find (ACM’s) in either: walls, ceilings, floors, roofs, or all of these.
Some (ACM’s) are more susceptible to damage than others, particularly materials that contain higher amounts of asbestos, for example, lagging, insulation boards and sprayed coatings can contain up to 85% asbestos and are more likely to be manufactured from blue (crocidolite) and brown (amosite) asbestos – which are considered to be the 2 most lethal asbestos types. Whereas – ‘asbestos containing cement’ only contains 10-15% white (chrysotile) asbestos; which fibres are considered to be less harmfull than blue and brown varieties.
The list below prioritises (ACM’s) by their potential high risk of fibre release.
- Pipe lagging – used to cover plumbing pipes. Can contain up to 100% asbestos.
- Sprayed asbestos coatings – used in: ceilings, walls, internal roofs and soffits. Can contain up to 85% asbestos.
- Insulation boards – used for thermal insulation, and fire protection. Can contain up to 45% asbestos.
- Ceiling tiles
- Millboard, paper products used for insulating electrical wires/equipment. Can contain up to 45% asbestos.
- Asbestos cement products, has been commonly used as bath panels, roofing and cladding for garages and sheds and also in guttering and drainpipes. Can contain 15 – 45% asbestos.
- Asbestos textured coatings – can contain up to 5% white (chrysotile) asbestos
- Bitumen roofing material -contains white (chrysotile) asbestos, contains 2- 5%.
- Vinyl and thermoplastic floor tiles.
- Mastics, sealants, adhesives and putties.
Do’s and don’ts of handling asbestos.
- Drill, sand, scrape, saw, cut etc, asbestos suspect material
- Remove asbestos materials yourself
Locate asbestos materials within your home and inspect it for signs of degradation or damage. I.e. asbestos can crumble and disintegrate with age, making it friable – where it can release fibres and dust into the air.
- Contact your local council or an asbestos safety removal company for advice regarding safe removal.
The illustration below shows possible places where asbestos material can be located.
Asbestos Timebomb (Daily Mirror)
Fifty percent of the UK's 25,000 schools were built between 1945 - 1974, a time when asbestos was widely used. Teaching staff dying of mesothelioma peaked to 18 percent a year from 2001 - 2005.
This alarming evidence indicates that thousands of school children are likely to have been exposed and are at risk of developing an asbestos related disease.
Despite government awareness dating back to 1960 that low asbestos exposure could cause mesothelioma - governments have not carried out a full audit of schools to assess the potential risk.
If you are a UK resident and would like to sign the petition for:
The Prime Minister to address and implement the following concerns:
A £10 million National Centre for Asbestos Related Disease to provide better treatment, alleviate suffering and work towards a cure for mesothelioma.
- Compensation reinstated for victims of 'pleural plaques' – lung scars caused by asbestos fibres – (it was abolished 2 years ago).
- Compensation for asbestos disease sufferers who have notrace of their employers insurers.
- A 'public register' concerning all asbestos surveys carried out on public buildings.
- The 'Health and Safety Executive' to be provided with enough resources to meet its own targets for inspecting asbestos removal work."
Then please visit AsbestosTimebomb<