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A (Very) Brief History of Asbestos

For a long time, industries around the world have embraced the use of asbestos in construction projects, commercial design, insulation, electrical fitting and general purposes. It was never imagined that asbestos removal would become an industry in its own right.

The mineral was loved by construction experts world over because of its ability to absorb sound, resist fire and offer a good tensile stability. Evidence of its mining and use stretches back over 4 millennia, with commercial interest in the mineral peaking with time. Old and historic cities like London have seen heavy use of asbestos products over the decades before its use was banned.

In the 19th century, all attention seemed to shift from traditional choices of construction to asbestos, and many of industries embraced its use. After centuries of continued use, it became apparent that asbestos was impacting negatively on those who came under exposure. The UK was one of the first countries to take firm steps for the protection of its citizens from the dangers of this dangerous mineral.

Dangers of asbestos

When you breathe in air containing asbestos fibres, you become vulnerable to various forms of cancer, especially the ones that affect the lungs as well as the lining of the chest.

Long-term exposure leads to fatal implications and has been known to kill. Asbestos poses risk to anyone who disturbs its condition, lives or works in premises where the product was used and has deteriorated over time, exposing its fibres and making it possible for a person to breath it in.

Areas of a building where asbestos is prevalent include walls where coating exists, floors and window padding. Some tiles also contain asbestos. The most dangerous areas where asbestos is found are lagging and insulation, and the material at these points will deteriorate and release fibres 85% of the time.

One of the most prevalent conditions caused by long-term exposure to asbestos in the UK is Mesothelioma. Currently, the region carries the unenviable tag of having the highest numbers of people affected by this fatal condition, which is known to kill the victim just 8 months after diagnosis. Figures indicate that by the year 2050, over 90,000 people in the UK will have died of Mesothelioma-related complications. This is why it is essential that asbestos surveys are professionally carried out in older cities like London which have seen extensive use of this dangerous material over the decades.

Asbestos in the UK

Here in the United Kingdom we have a long and storied history of use of asbestos in a wide range of industries. Studies indicate that the mineral was heavily used in the shipbuilding, construction and military circles for centuries. It formed a part of the materials used in floors, ceilings, windows and boiler rooms.

In the military, its use was extensive, and military engineers worked alongside shipbuilders to produce asbestos-laced artillery as well as war ships. At the moment, asbestos is firmly embedded in UK ships, homes, boiler rooms, offices and schools. It is however important to note that the material is currently found mostly in older buildings and structures. At some point all of these will need asbestos removal. London is no exception to this problem.

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Risk Factors For Asbestos Contamination

  • The application of asbestos cement.
  • Asbestos spray-on coating.
  • Importation of any product that contained even minute traces of asbestos.
  • Use of insulating items that had asbestos in them.
  • Use of tiles or boards coated or covered in asbestos.