asbestos fibres under a microscope

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring material that was widely used in construction up until the year 2000. It was mined in many countries round the world and the UK was the global centre for the manufacture of asbestos products.

Why is asbestos dangerous?

Asbestos, if in good condition and undisturbed, presents a negligible risk to health. If asbestos is damaged or disturbed during renovation however, microscopic fibres can be released into the air and, if inhaled, can result in fatal illnesses. Approximately 5,000 people in the UK die of asbestos related illnesses each year.

The main illnesses related to asbestos are Mesothelioma (an aggressive cancer with no cure), and Asbestosis (damage to the lungs).

If asbestos is dangerous, why was it so widely used?

Asbestos was popular for its amazing material properties. It was frequently mixed with other materials to make them stronger, fire resistant, sound dampening, insulating and chemically resistant.

Asbestos related illnesses can take between 15-60 years to develop significant symptoms which is why the dangers weren’t initially identified.

When was asbestos used in the construction industry?

Asbestos took off in popularity after World War II up until the import and manufacture of asbestos products were banned in 1999.

It is estimated that 50% of buildings built before the year 2000 contain some asbestos materials.

How to stay safe around asbestos

Whether you are a homeowner, contractor or landlord. You are responsible for any asbestos you come into contact with.

We have prepared a series of guides to take you through your responsibilities for asbestos and how to stay safe:

Guide to Asbestos

Guide to Asbestos

Guide to Asbestos

Get a material tested for asbestos

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Learn how to stay safe around asbestos

Online safety courses designed for tradespeople who encounter asbestos in the workplace
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Further Reading

Here are some useful articles elsewhere on the web with useful information about asbestos: