Asbestos is one of the most dangerous substances that can be commonly found in the home or workplace. But the substance is not particularly well understood. That means there are many myths and misconceptions about asbestos that can actually be potentially be dangerous for you.

This is the first part of our series on common myths about asbestos.

Myth: Modern homes will not contain asbestos

That depends on how you define ‘modern’. Asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999, so any homes that were built after this date will not contain asbestos. But if your home was built or renovated any time before this, there’s a chance that asbestos will have been used somewhere.

Myth: Wearing a mask protects you from asbestos

Commonly people will assume that they are safe from the effects of asbestos if they wear as dust mask. You may have seen asbestos professionals handling the substance while wearing a mask, but these are not the same as the simply dust masks you can buy in DIY stores. Unless you are trained and have access to professional-grade equipment, you should never attempt to handle or remove asbestos.

Myth: Some forms of asbestos are safe

While it’s true that there are different kinds of asbestos, all of them are dangerous and banned in the UK. Some people believe that white asbestos in particular does not pose a danger to health, but this is not true. While it is true that blue and brown asbestos are considered to be more dangerous to human health, white asbestos is classified as carcinogenic and is banned.

Myth: You should remove any asbestos you find in your home

You might think that if you find asbestos in your home, the safest thing that you can do is do remove it as soon as possible. However, this is actually a bad idea. If the asbestos is in good condition and has not been disturbed, the best thing that you can do is to leave it alone. The fibres are only dangerous if they are released into the atmosphere.

Attempting to remove the asbestos yourself is very dangerous as you will inevitably disturb the fibres and these can then get into your lungs where they can do long-term damage. If you want to have the asbestos removed you should get in contact with professionals.

Myth: Symptoms of asbestos illnesses appear immediately

This can be one of the major problems with asbestos – many of the illnesses that the asbestos fibres cause don’t begin to present symptoms for as long as 40 years after exposure.