The Danger of Asbestos

By: Paul
Asbestos is the collective term used to describe a family of several types of mineral fibrous rocks. There are currently six different regulated types of asbestos, with the three main types being Crocidolite, Amosite and Chrysolite.

Crocidolite which is usually blue can be found a lot in southern Africa, Australia and in Russia. The Amosite which is usually brown is most commonly found in Africa. The Chrysolite is of a white colour and can be found in different places all around the world. All those three types were actually imported a lot in the United Kingdom before being banned from use in the eighties for some and at the end of the nineties for others.

Asbestos fibres have been incorporated into many different materials and especially building materials since the end of the nineteenth century because of their useful properties. It was used as an acoustic insulator, a thermal insulator but also as fire proofing. The mineral fibre was actually known by the ancient Greek who recognized certain hazards of it. But its disadvantage is that it is a highly toxic material and can cause serious illnesses such as mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Asbestos fibres can be easily inhaled and can become lodged in the tissue of your chest and as a result, your body's natural defenses may not be able to break them down. This can then lead to lung diseases and cancer especially if you are exposed to the fibres repeatedly over a certain number of years.

Even though the white asbestos, also called chrysolite, is still used a lot in the United States and known as less dangerous as the other types of asbestos, it can still cause cancer in humans but with some uncertainty as to the scale of the risk involved there.

The first death recorded as related to asbestos occurred in 1906 and at the same period, scientists started to notice a large number of deaths and lung diseases in asbestos mining towns.

The British Lung Foundation carried out a survey recently that revealed that most tradespeople were actually unaware of the health risks posed by asbestos, and that they did not think about asking if there was any asbestos on the site they were working on.

Today, the best way to find out if there is asbestos in a building is to ask a company to carry out asbestos surveys. More and more companies have actually specialized in asbestos surveys as well as asbestos risk assessment and legionella risk assessment.

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