Why and Where was Asbestos Used?
Large amounts of asbestos-containing materials were used for a wide range of construction purposes in new and refurbished buildings until 1999 when all use of asbestos was banned. This extensive use means that there are still many buildings in England which contain asbestos.
Asbestos was commonly incorporated within cemented panels to enhance strength, thermal and fire resistance. At the time it was seen as a wonder material that made construction much quicker and cheaper. These panels were regularly applied to ceilings, soffits, gutter/rainwater pipes, chimney flue linings, floor tiles, insulation, etc.
Where asbestos materials are in good condition and unlikely to be disturbed they do not present a risk. However, where the materials are in poor condition or are disturbed or damaged, asbestos fibres may be released into the air. If these fibres are breathed in they can cause serious lung diseases, including cancers.
People who disturb the fabric of buildings during daily use, maintenance, refurbishment, repair, installation and related activities may be exposed to asbestos every time they unknowingly disturb or work on asbestos-containing materials without taking the correct precautions.
To prevent this exposure, information is needed on whether asbestos is, or is likely to be, present in the buildings, so that an assessment can be made about the risk it presents and appropriate measures put in place to manage those risks.
The person responsible for managing the maintenance and repair of a non-domestic building (also called a ‘duty holder’) must manage any asbestos in it. They can use other competent people to assist them in all or part of the work to comply with their legal duties but they cannot delegate their legal duty.
A thorough inspection of the premises will usually take the form of an asbestos survey. The survey has to provide sufficient information for a risk assessment.
During any property inspection PA Surveyors would check accessible areas and advise whether we have concerns.
How To Protect Against Asbestos Exposure?
If there is a possibility you might be exposed to asbestos at work, such as during renovating old buildings, you should:-
- Use protective equipment, including a suitable face mask, worn properly.
- Clean up as you go – stop waste building up.
- Make sure waste is double-bagged and is disposed of properly at a licensed tip.
- Wear disposable clothing.
- Wash before breaks and before going home.
- Avoid disturbing the asbestos material whatsoever.
Health Issues of Asbestos?
Mesothelioma is closely linked with asbestos exposure. All forms of asbestos have been linked to mesothelioma, although amphibole asbestos appears to cause this cancer at lower levels of exposure than chrysotile asbestos.
The major health problem caused by asbestos exposure, aside from cancer, is a lung disease called asbestosis. When a person breathes high levels of asbestos over time, some of the fibers lodge deep in the lungs. Irritation caused by the fibers can eventually lead to scarring (fibrosis) in the lungs. This can make it hard to breathe. The main symptoms of asbestosis are shortness of breath and a chronic cough.
When asbestosis occurs, it is typically 10 to 20 years after the initial exposure to asbestos. The disease can get worse over time. While some people may not have serious symptoms, others may be seriously disabled by breathing problems. Unfortunately there is no effective treatment for this disease.
Asbestos can also reach the outer lining of the lungs (pleura), where it can cause pleural plaques (areas of hard, scar-like tissue in the pleura), pleural thickening, and pleural effusions (buildup of fluid between the lungs and the pleura). All of these conditions can make it harder to breathe. Eventually lung cancer can develop.
Why Instruct PA Surveyors?
We are experienced and trained Chartered Surveyors being able to detect and advise on asbestos. It doesn’t always mean asbestos materials must be removed from the building – if deemed satisfactory, then careful management of asbestos could be a viable option. Our Chartered Surveyors will provide this guidance, rather than an Asbestos Contractor encouraging you to have it removed to generate a new job.