Asbestos materials such as Asbestos Roof Tiles, Asbestos
Plaster, Artex Asbestos, where extensively used between the years of 1950 right through the 1980's. It had
the beneficial properties of fire proofing, insulation and was ideal for use in a variety of ways in
all buildings including houses, factories, schools and even hospitals. In fact, any building built
before the 2nd millennium has a good chance of containing asbestos. Asbestos is deemed remotely safe if kept
in good condition and undisturbed, however, dangerous fibres are released when damaged which have severe
detrimental effects to whoever breathes them in.
How is Asbestos dangerous to the Body?
Breathing in high levels of these fibres increases your
chances of having an asbestos related disease. Asbestos fibres remain at very low levels through the
atmosphere so people are indeed exposed to this, but working close to asbestos will cause inhalation
at dangerous levels which can lead to problems downstream.
The four main diseases
are as follows;
1- Asbestosis - scarring of lung
3- Asbestos-related lung
4- Diffuse pleural
When fibres are inhaled, there is a possibility of developing 1 of 4 diseases which range
from fatal to non-fatal. The key factor to keep in mind is that these diseases will not develop over night
but later on in life. Another point to note is that smokers are at an even higher risk when combined with
inhalation of asbestos fibres.
Recent research has shown that asbestos may cause or
induce the development of laryngeal, pharyngeal, stomach and colorectal cancers.
Asbestos Containing Materials
Asbestos cement can be found in many places, both inside
and outside buildings. The following areas include;
- Asbestos cement roof
tiles: Mainly made up of corrugated cement and
typically found in industrial buildings. Another area they are typically found at is the roofs of
garages and sheds.
Asbestos wall cladding: This has a similar shape to roofing and is usually used in conjunction with cement
Asbestos down pipes and gutters: Usually attached at the end of asbestos cement roofs in large
Asbestos cement flues: Typically found in boilers of homes.
Dangers: Asbestos Roof Tiles
Asbestos is usually held tightly in these areas so it
doesn't usually give off very high levels of fibres, even when it is broken. However, if the asbestos is
drilled or sawn, fibre release will be greatly enhanced. If you are going to work with this type of asbestos,
be warned that it is usually used in conjunction with other asbestos materials such as sprayed
This type of asbestos
was mainly used to complete a project by providing decorative finishing's on areas such as the wall or ceiling.
This type of asbestos is also known as Artex.
The fibres are not typically breathed in as they are held
in a relatively firm structure and therefore not released. Nevertheless, these areas may have had sandpaper
applied in the past which will weaken the structure inducing their release.
3. Floor tiles, textiles and
There are many occasions where you find these floor tiles
hidden under carpets etc. With regard to textiles, these can be found in things such as fire blankets and
heat resistant gloves. Finally, the composites where generally used in bath panels, toilet cisterns and even
Dangers: Asbestos Plaster
Treat with caution as these are not as easily identified as
4. Sprayed coatings
This was usually used on the underside of roofs and on the
sides of walls. In addition to this, it was used for fire protection on steel and beams that were commonly
used to support buildings. This was an easy method to apply asbestos, and was very easy to over use, so there
is generally debris and excess amounts around the applied area.
This type of asbestos is very dangerous as it breaks up
easily whilst being composed of 85% asbestos. Unfortunately, the smallest of minor disturbances can cause a
huge release of fibres into the atmosphere. For this reason, DO NOT attempt to work with this form under any
circumstances and leave it for a HSE- licensed contractor.