During the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, did you start that DIY project you’ve putting off for years? If so, did you think about asbestos before you started that drill?

In the UK, if your home was built before the year 2000, it may contain asbestos. Learn more about where it might be found in your home.

Why was asbestos so widely used?

Asbestos became prevalent during the industrial revolution. It was most popular due to its heat resistance and strength, but also because it’s resistant to chemicals, and water, it can be used as sound insulation, and it was cheap. When combined with other substances, made useful products.

Where can asbestos be found?

  • Spray coatings – fire protection, prevent condensation and for acoustic control.
  • Laggings – prevent heat loss or heat transfer to surrounding areas. Found on boilers and pipes.
  • Insulation boards – Low density, low cost, fire resistant insulation. You can find these in ceiling tiles, wall partitions, fire-breaks, soffit boards and heater cupboards.
  • Asbestos yarns – Used in the manufacture of asbestos cloth for fire-protective clothing, gloves and fire blankets.
  • Fibre cement – Used in roofing, wall cladding, soffit boards, boiler flues, gutters, pipes, tanks and bath panels.
  • Floor tiles, gaskets and bitumen felts – Where floor tiles were bonded to the floor using bitumen, there is often a residue of fibres left in the bitumen where tiles are removed.
  • Mastic, sealants, and adhesive – Used in such things as boiler systems to attach insulation or fill gaps.
  • Textured coatings and paints – On walls and ceilings
  • Reinforced plastics – Used for reinforced handles, automobile parts, housing for electronic equipment and toilet cisterns

The Health Risks

We have known that asbestos is harmful to health since 1985. Harmful effects have been reported in medical papers since 1924, but it was in 1955 that it was shown that breathing in asbestos fibres causes mesothelioma. Brown and Blue asbestos are the most harmful, but White asbestos also causes asbestos related diseases.

  • Asbestosis; Asbestos fibres breathed into the deepest parts of the lung cannot be removed by the body’s defences. It damages cells which are repaired by the body, creating scar tissue. Scarring destroys the lung tissue and reduces the lungs ability to take up oxygen, and therefore causes pain and breathlessness. 
  • Lung cancer; Lung cancer is a malignant lung tumour characterised by uncontrolled cell growth in tissues of the lung. Common symptoms include coughing (including coughing up blood), weight loss, shortness of breath and chest pains.
  • Mesothelioma; Asbestos fibres can also affect the lining of the lungs (the pleura), causing the development of malignant and incurable cancer, called mesothelioma. In the pleura this tumour causes fluid build up and pain in the chest. Deaths from mesothelioma typically occur 20-40 years following exposure
  • Other health conditions; Pleural plaques

So, what should you do if you think you’ve found asbestos?

  1. STOP what you are doing
  2. CALL bSure Testing for advice
  3. SAMPLE the material

Don’t delay, be safe today!