Where is Asbestos Found?
Asbestos fibres derived from natural and man-made sources are found throughout the environment; in fact asbestos was used widely in building materials, insulation and household products between the 1900s and the mid-1970s.It is important to know where and in what products asbestos is most likely to be found. Asbestos is most likely to be present in buildings constructed or refurbished between 1950 and 1980, particularly if it has a steel frame; boiler/vessels and pipe work with thermal insulation and/or suspended ceilings.
What Health Issues are Associated with Asbestos?
Asbestos is dangerous because it splits into very fine dust particles, which can be inhaled. These particles can lodge in the deeper parts of the lungs and because they do not dissolve readily – they may persist for years. Inhaling high levels of asbestos fibres over a period of time can result in diseases for which there is no cure including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma (a cancer of the chest or abdominal lining). The risk of people developing asbestos-related diseases depends on a number of factors including cumulative dose received, the time since their first exposure, and the type and size of asbestos fibre concerned.
If you find that you do have asbestos, then it is usually the legal responsibility of the building owner to take appropriate action. The owner should:
- Know where asbestos materials are and ensure that maintenance staff and others have been suitably trained in procedures for dealing with those materials
- Ensure that if a survey has not been carried out, management procedures are sufficiently robust to prevent work starting when suspect materials are present
- Ensure that staff know they should stop and seek advice when they come across suspect fibrous materials
- Ensure that the removal and disposal of asbestos is carried out in a safe and responsible manner