Following the recent release of the Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) report, asbestos-related deaths are currently at an all-time high, having almost doubled since 1995. As such, Britain’s death toll from asbestos is said to be at a ‘crisis level’, with 2,523 reported deaths from mesothelioma alone.
While these levels are incredibly worrying, the number of asbestos-related deaths are actually expected to fall in the years to come. This is because asbestos exposure is becoming less and less frequent, now that the material is banned and its dangers are widely known about.
However, having been widely used in the UK up to 1999, those who were exposed to asbestos during the preceding years are now succumbing to the asbestos-related diseases that have slowly developed over time. Therefore, of the number of deaths reported, the majority were people aged over 75 years old – as they’d been exposed to asbestos growing up – and 82% were men.
Nonetheless, now that asbestos is no longer used in construction, you might find yourself asking: should I still be worried? Is it still as dangerous as it used to be?
Here we answer both these questions and more, clarifying why asbestos remains as much an issue today as it did when it was banned 20 years ago.
Asbestos is still highly prevalent.
Despite asbestos being banned as a building material, there are still thousands of homes and buildings out there which contain it. As long as it remains contained and undisturbed, it won’t pose too much of a risk, but if you notice its presence, it’s important to have it inspected by a professional. Likewise, if you’re thinking of buying a new home, it’s generally a good idea to have it checked prior to moving in.
Asbestos is only dangerous when disturbed.
The danger of asbestos comes from when its microfibres become airborne, which only happens when it’s disturbed. Therefore, if you’re worried that you might have asbestos in your home, don’t panic – it’ll only be a problem if the asbestos-containing building material becomes damaged.
Due to the microscopic size of the fibres, it can be difficult to tell whether asbestos is present or not, so only those equipped with the necessary experience will be able to help.
Asbestos-related conditions develop over time.
If you do accidentally inhale asbestos microfibres, you won’t be able to tell right away. Once inhaled, they become trapped in the lungs, and can slowly cause damage over time. Often, it can be difficult to determine whether these fibres are present until it’s too late, so the best way to avoid developing an associated condition is by minimising asbestos contact as much as possible.
If you’re concerned you might have asbestos present in your home or building, our expert team here at Crucial Environmental are here to help. Get in touch with us today and we’ll be able to provide you with expert advice on how to combat the issue.