Common Asbestos Questions
Getting your facts right about asbestos is vital. However, doing so can be a lot easier said than done, largely due to how difficult asbestos is to identify.
As such, it’s important to arm yourself with the knowledge you need to understand how to deal with asbestos should you ever encounter it, and get to know why it can cause such a big problem.
Listed below are some of the questions we get asked most frequently about asbestos here at Crucial Environmental, highlighting everything you need to know to recognise just how serious an issue asbestos can represent – both commercially and domestically
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous silicate mineral that was widely used in construction and other industries until the late 1990s. There are six types of asbestos which, when disturbed, release microscopic ‘fibrils’ into the air that can cause a whole host of health issues. Check out our ‘What is Asbestos Page‘ to find out more about the science of asbestos.
What are the health risks of asbestos exposure?
Prolonged exposure to asbestos can cause a variety of health conditions. These tend to develop slowly over time, meaning there is a greater risk to younger people than older workers. Find out more about the conditions asbestos can cause.
How can I identify asbestos?
Due to the combination of asbestos with other building materials, it can be difficult to identify it without the correct training or knowhow. It is possible to identify asbestos by its colour, but this isn’t always easy. The three most common commercial types of asbestos were coloured white, blue and brown. However, since asbestos is often mixed with other materials, it can be quite difficult to tell so you should always consult an expert or get an asbestos survey if you’re not sure
How quickly does it take for asbestos to affect human health?
Human health is only threatened by asbestos if it is disturbed and its microfibres are able to become airborne. Initial exposure won’t cause much harm but inhaling these harmful microfibres over a long period of time could lead to a number of lung-related issues. The most commonly reported asbestos-related conditions are mesothelioma, asbestosis, pleural thickening and asbestos-related lung cancer – all of which can take years to develop after exposure.
Can asbestos affect pets as well?
Yes, unfortunately, our furry friends can be affected by asbestos exposure as well if they breathe the harmful microfibres into their lungs. Check out this helpful guide on how to protect your pets from asbestos exposure for further advice.
Asbestos Questions & Advice for Your Home
I have recently purchased a property. Does it have asbestos?
Since asbestos was used in the construction industry until the late 1990s, if your property was built before this time, then there’s a possibility it could contain asbestos. That’s not to say it’s necessarily a cause for concern though – only if the asbestos is disturbed and is able to release its fibrils into the atmosphere will it cause an issue.
What types of home-based materials is asbestos contained in?
Asbestos can typically still be found in a number of building materials within the home. Amongst several others, these generally include:
- Cement products (i.e. pipes, flues, garage roofs, etc.)
- Water tanks
- Ceiling & wall cavities
- Textured decorative coatings
- Floor tiles
- Textiles & composites
I think I have asbestos in my home. What should I do?
If you have had no formal asbestos training, do nothing – you should never try to repair or remove any asbestos by yourself without the correct materials and understanding. If you are certain that it is asbestos but it hasn’t been disturbed or damaged, leave it where it is but check on it from time to time to ensure it hasn’t started to deteriorate.
If, however, your suspected asbestos has become damaged, you will need to consult a professional to conduct a survey and risk assessment. That way, they will be able to determine whether it is, in fact, asbestos and work out whether it should be removed, sealed or left alone.
I have found asbestos in my house. What should I do?
Don’t panic. Asbestos is only harmful if the microfibres become airborne. If you can see that the asbestos-containing material has not been disturbed, conceal it to prevent it becoming susceptible to damage. If you aren’t sure whether or not it has been disturbed though, or if you are unable to identify what type of asbestos it is, contact us here at Crucial Environmental and we will be able to help resolve the issue for you.
Asbestos Questions & Advice for Workplaces & Businesses
What should I do if I potentially come across asbestos at work?
Stop working immediately, then consult us to confirm whether or not it is asbestos. From there, we will be able to come up with the best course of action and determine the health risks involved to workers.
Where can I seek advice for dealing with asbestos in the workplace?
If you are concerned that your workplace could have asbestos in it, contact us to arrange a consultation and survey. Alternatively, the Health & Safety Executive’s website regularly posts advice on dealing with asbestos in commercial environments.
As an employer, am I liable to provide my employees with personal protective clothing (PPE) when dealing with asbestos?
Yes, you are. If your employees are likely to be exposed to asbestos while at work, it is your responsibility to provide them with adequate safety equipment to ensure they’re suitably protected.
The building I work in has asbestos. What is the risk?
The presence of asbestos alone should not be a cause for concern. It only becomes a risk to human health when it is released into the air and breathed in. Your office’s duty holders are required to actively manage any asbestos found in the building, and analyse whether or not it is a cause for concern. If it is, they will likely recommend restricting access to the building while trained specialists seal, enclose or remove the asbestos. The risk to you personally should be fairly minimal.