Category: Asbestos

Descriptions of asbestos

Building Consultants Asbestos Fine

Danger sign for asbestos

Asbestos is Dangerous

Building consultants, Watts Group PLC were prosecuted and fined £30,000, plus costs in January 2016 for health and safety breaches that allowed two construction workers to be exposed to asbestos.

The group was the asbestos removal project manager and surveyed for asbestos prior to replacement of doors in a service duct below a hospital. They drew up plans showing where asbestos was present and where it had been removed. The survey, however was defective and asbestos in poor condition was present throughout the area but not shown on the plans.

It is vital to health and also to comply with legal requirements that the correct type of asbestos survey is carried out systematically and results recorded. Information on where to find asbestos can be found on the HSE website.

Persons responsible for managing premises such as shops or industrial units have a duty to manage asbestos. You can find out more about that at HSENI’s ‘Duty to manage asbestos’ page

Asbestos found in Children’s Crayons

Some crayons, imported from China, have been found to contain traces of Asbestos!



They are not being recalled because the asbestos is set in wax and is thus not thought to be a problem for inhalation.  However, experts at UKATA say that any level of asbestos present in a children’s product, is unacceptable because asbestos presents very real dangers of cancer. And while the asbestos may be set in wax, reducing dangers of inhalation, many children put crayons in their mouths and parents may not find this a problem as they believe the wax is non-toxic.


One company has already pulled the crayons, (some marketed with images from films such as Frozen and TV programmes like Peppa Pig) from its shelves, bringing praise for acting responsibly.



Heating Engineer Fined £5,000 and costs – Asbestos Risk

Circular Saw

Circular Saw

A self employed heating engineer was prosecuted and fined for not preventing exposure to asbestos in a home where he was carrying out work. He was installing a new heating system at the home and removed redundant pipework with a circular saw and then carried the lagged pipework through the house and left it outside in the garden. This meant that asbestos fibres could have been released exposing both him and the homeowners to contamination.

The contractor had not undertaken any asbestos awareness training, which would have helped him recognise that the lagging could contain asbestos. Once recognised as a possible source of asbestos, he should have had it removed by a licensed contractor. As it was, the house owners had to move out for their home to be decontaminated.

Karl Locher pleaded guilty at Trafford Magistrates’ Court to breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £5,000 with £3,000 costs.

Remember, his insurance company will also have had to pay for compensation associated with this, so his insurance costs will skyrocket too!

7 Surprising Uses Of Asbestos


Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that is useful for insulation for fire, heat and sound and was widely used in the 19th and early 20th centuries until the health problems associated with its use (causes cancer) meant it became banned in most countries. Asbestos had been used for thousands of years before this and some quite surprising uses were made of it. For instance:

1. Burn The Tablecloth to Clean It



The Emperoror Charlemagne is said to have had a tablecloth made of asbestos that was thrown on the fire to clean it and retrieved totally unharmed. He may have got the idea from the Persians who did the same with napkins. Credit:

2. Used as Artificial Snow

Snow scenes in films used to use asbestos to produce the snow effect, for instance in the

Judy Garland

Judy Garland, in the Wizard of Oz

Wizard of Oz film (1939) with Judy Garland and in Holiday Inn (1942) with Bing Crosby, where Bing sang the classical “White Christmas” song. It was also supplied as fake snow for households to use as decoration at Christmas. Credit:

3. Baby Talcum Powder used to contain Asbestos

Talc is a mineral that is mined from the Earth and is used in many cosmetics and for making talcum powder. It is often found in areas where asbestos is also found, so there can be some contamination of the talc with asbestos. Since the 1970s, companies in the USA have been required to ensure that cosmetic grade talc is free from asbestos.

4. Used in Making Cheese

Spores were placed on asbestos for making blue cheeses


5. Used in Fermentation Tanks for Producing Methane.

Credit: Page 70

6. Used to Give the Appearance of Dust in Theatre Productions

cobwebFor instance, dust on Cobwebs and wine kegs and in old attics!.


7. In Soldiers’ Helmets and Gas Masks

gas mask and helmet

gas mask and helmet

Asbestos was used in helmets from WWI and in gas masks in WW2


Sources of Asbestos Hazards

Where can Asbestos be Found? Potential Sources of Asbestos

Warning sign for potential asbestos

Asbestos Hazard Warning Sign

Do you have any idea where asbestos is lurking? Though regulations have become quite strict, there are still some residential and commercial sources of asbestos.

Asbestos products have gradually been disappearing but they were widely used before the introduction of bans on the use of this material and it’s still possible to find asbestos in older constructions.

Identifying and getting rid of asbestos is essential because of the numerous health risks associated to it. Here are some of the most common sources of asbestos that you could come across.


Asbestos Cement

water tank

water tank

Asbestos cement roofs and flues were common in the past. Asbestos cement roofs can be commonly found on farms and commercial properties.

Sometimes, asbestos can also be discovered in the roofs of sheds or garages. Asbestos cement flues were common in boiler systems, air conditioning and ventilation. These were typical for both commercial and residential developments.

Asbestos cement was sometimes used in the construction of water tanks, as well. Properties constructed prior to the 1980s could potentially have a water tank made of this material.




Until the 1980s, asbestos was frequently used as a sealant around windows and doors. Its insulating properties made the material a really common pick in both residential and commercial buildings.

Asbestos is also heat-resistant, which is why the material could be found as a sealant in old furnaces. Cleaning older furnaces could potentially be a dangerous activity because it may release the asbestos particles in the air. Figuring out whether the material was used for insulation prior to getting started with cleaning will be essential.




Yes, asbestos could be found in something as innocent as old wallpaper.



Many vinyl papers made prior to the 1980s contain asbestos. Removing those and replacing them with something a bit more innovative could be a downright dangerous task. Intact wallpaper isn’t dangerous but trying to tear it from the walls will release the asbestos fibers in the air.

If you’re looking at an older house that’s in need of wallpaper removal, you should first talk to a professional about it. Experts in the field will test the wallpaper and the adhesive for asbestos, after which they’ll recommend the best removal procedure.

Textured Coatings

textured coating

textured coating

In the past, textured coatings were used as a decorative finish. They were popular for use on the walls and the ceilings of buildings.

Depending on the particular decorative effect that was sought, such textured coatings could have peaks or different patterns. The original color of the material is white. It can easily be painted over.

If undisturbed, textured coatings containing asbestos are not dangerous. Still, it’s essential to get those identified and assess the risk. If you plan to carry out a renovation project in the future that involves tearing down the coating, you’ll need professional assistance.

Floor Covers

Vinyl sheets and rubber floor covers often contained asbestos fibers in the past. These

floor tiles

textured tiles

materials were “tight” and heavy because of the presence of asbestos fibers. Even the adhesive that was used for such floor covers contained some amount of asbestos.

It’s a general assumption that floor covers and tiles installed prior to the 1980s contain some amount of asbestos.

The amount of asbestos in flooring is generally small and older floors can be easily covered with new materials. If the old flooring is to be removed, however, the danger will have to be evaluated in advance.

How to Check for Asbestos and Identify It

A visual inspection of your home, office or other commercial property is the only one you should be undertaking. Don’t disturb the material that could potentially be a source of asbestos. Inhaling the fibers will increase the risk of experiencing asbestos-related health problems, so be careful about it.

Asbestos is a fibrous material and any old insulation fibers could potentially contain it. Requesting the assistance of a certified professional is the best idea in such situations. The professional will take a small sample from the questionable material and lab exams will be performed to determine whether there is asbestos.

Depending on the location of the material and its condition, you’ll have to determine whether to remove it or leave it undisturbed. Asbestos products in good condition will not release dangerous fibers. If any damage has been incurred, however, safe removal will be the best strategy.

Any older building comes with the risk of asbestos being present in the construction materials. Since the health risks associated with asbestos are serious, it’s important to identify it and assess the material’s condition early enough. Asbestos-containing materials may be isolated, repaired or removed. Whichever option you choose, it’s crucial to pick a certified professional for the execution of the task.

Asbestos Dangers



Chrysotile (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral material that is still found in many buildings, especially older ones. It is a good insulating material but is linked to causing very serious health problems for people, including cancer, so is rarely used in the construction industry nowadays. In many countries, it is illegal to use it any more but it sometimes has to be removed from facilities where it was installed previously.

There are several forms of asbestos and some are more dangerous than others, with chrysotile appearing to be the most dangerous form. Those working in areas with this type of asbestos or living near production facilities using it have developed health problems, especially lung problems and tumors. Asbestos consists of many small fibers that can become airborne when the asbestos is disturbed and are then breathed in, causing various illnesses. Some people have become so ill due to their exposure to asbestos that they are unable to go about their normal life and this has resulted in lawsuits from workers who believe that their health was not properly protected even though the dangers were known about.

Fiberglass has replaced asbestos in many areas now. It is a good insulating material also. Removing asbestos from buildings and replacing it with new materials is very costly and time consuming. Those involved in the process have to wear protective clothing to help prevent the harmful fibers from getting into their bodies.

Asbestos & Mesothelioma

English: Mesothelioma of the left lower lung.

English: Mesothelioma of the left lower lung. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mesothelioma is a type of lung cancer linked to asbestos exposure. It has a very poor prognosis (outlook) and most people diagnosed as having it are likely to die from it, either directly or from the effect it has on their other vital organs. It affects the cells lining the lung area as well as the chest cavity and promotes the growth of tumors in these areas, some of which (though not necessarily all) may be cancerous.

For some people, it takes only a single exposure to asbestos to develop mesothelioma, while others are exposed to it for many years before being affected. And it can take many years for mesothelioma to develop – as long as 20 years between exposure and development of the illness. It is this illness that means that construction or building workers must assess whether asbestos is present before they begin any remodeling or destruction of an existing building. You can find help on mesothelioma on this site.

Asbestos Testing

In order to determine if asbestos is present in a given location the materials have to be tested. They are collected and then sent to a laboratory for the testing to be completed. If the tests are positive then measures are taken to secure the area until the removal or encapsulation process can be implemented and completed. For many people, knowing where to look for asbestos is very important too. In older homes you may not even realize it is a factor to be concerned about.

Fuse Box with asbestos

Fuse Box with asbestos (Photo credit: sarflondondunc)

Asbestos was once very popular as a type of insulation, so anywhere using insulation is the first place that someone testing for asbestos is likely to take test samples from. They will also look into any heat ducts, the fireplace, around wiring housing, the furnace, and around plumbing pipes. Any workers should wear protective gear as a precaution while searching for collection samples.

Only trained professionals should be used to assess whether asbestos is present: they will know where and what to look for. The general homeowner doesn’t usually have this knowledge or the training. Your local health department or building services department may be able to provide a list of professionals in your area to carry out this work for you.

There are many different times when you may decide to do asbestos testing. If you live in a home that was built before 1980 it may not have been tested before. Finding out if you have asbestos in the area or not can give you peace of mind. You certainly don’t want to risk exposing your family to the harmful effects. You also don’t want to lie awake at night wondering if it is present or not.

You will also need to complete an asbestos test before you begin any type of remodeling or if you are tearing down something. These types of activities can loosen the fibers associated with asbestos and make them airborne as dust. This is when they are most dangerous and this is why asbestos is often kept damp if it becomes necessary to remove it.

Asbestos Removal

English: Worker are removing asbestos before d...

English: Worker are removing asbestos before demolishing the Imperial Courtyard Apartments in Irving, Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since asbestos can be so very dangerous for both people and animals, it has to be either covered up or removed and replaced with other types of materials such as fiberglass. The first option is to cover it, if possible (e.g by encapsulation) but if it cannot be safely covered, then it may need to be removed in a safe manner and this may even involve you having to move out for a few days. This is important so that residents don’t end up becoming ill from any airborne fibers.

Generally, a person has to be certified in asbestos removal to be able to perform the duties. There are plenty of well trained contractors out there with the right training. They also have all the safety equipment to do the job properly without putting their own health at risk.

The process has to be systematic so that as few fibers are broken loose during it as possible. It is the many fine fibers in asbestos that are responsible for the medical problems so the asbestos may be wetted down to help reduce the amount of fibers and dust that get loose into the area.

Once the asbestos is removed it has to be stored properly as well. There are special containers made for it that won’t leak the asbestos out into the environment. They are classified as a container for hazardous materials so that anyone coming upon them will know that what is inside could potentially be harmful.

In many locations, the collected containers of asbestos are buried in landfills. In other areas, asbestos can be dumped ONLY at licensed dumps for such hazardous waste. An asbestos removal professional will know the regulations for your area. Many areas will impose hefty fines and even jail time for not properly disposing of asbestos. This is due to the many health concerns related to it.

Asbestos can be a dangerous material, although it has been very useful in the past for insulation. If you discover it in your house, or if you want to do construction work on an older house, you would be well-advised to get a trained and qualified asbestos professional to assess any problem and advise on containment or removal.


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Hidden Killer


Asbestos mask

Asbestos mask (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Asbestos can be present in any building in the UK that was built or refurbished before the year 2000. It could be on ceiling tiles or textured coatings on walls or ceilings, or sprayed onto pipework. Or it could be anywhere that insulation was needed, such as around windows, fireplaces or even on building pillars and has also been used in roofing slates. It can also be found anywhere that fire resistance was needed, such as on fire doors, fuse boxes and electrical switchgear.

It is known as a hidden killer because it is dangerous to health and can be difficult to detect by eye. The only absolutely certain way to be sure whether or not it is present is to have a sample tested in a lab.

You should avoid disturbing or working with asbestos wherever possible, though if you have received training, there are some kinds of asbestos you can work with. without a licence. But some kinds of asbestos are just too dangerous to work with and only a licensed contractor can advise on how to deal with these situations. It is important to understand what kind of asbestos is present and what options can be used BEFORE any work starts.

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Asbestos Encapsulation

Asbestos Encapsulation

By Oregon Department of Transportation – Asbestos abatementUploaded by Smallman12q, CC BY 2.0,

Asbestos is extremely toxic if inhaled. It can eventually lead to a debilitating illness called asbestosis, which eventually leads to a rather nasty death. Other illnesses it can cause are gastric cancer, lung cancer, mesothelioma and emphysema. The material is now banned in most countries and over the last 20 years has been removed from as many buildings as possible. Removal is not a simple process though and can cost a lot of money as well as being highly dangerous if the dust gets into the air.

Due to the design of some buildings, especially those with asbestos concrete, it may be impossible to remove it in some cases, and sometimes removal is just too dangerous. To solve both of these issues, asbestos encapsulation was developed. This is a process of encasing the asbestos in a safety cover to ensure it is sealed away for the life of the building.

By locking away the asbestos it means that none of it can sustain damage in the future and this ensures that none of the dangerous particles escape to the atmosphere. One additional benefit of doing it this way is that the fire retardant advantages of asbestos itself remain in place. The final benefit is that the cost of doing it this way is much cheaper than having it removed.

This process of encapsulation should be done by fully qualified professionals who know what they are doing, it is no good employing just anyone to do it as this is likely to cause more problems in the future, and unless they have been specifically trained for this job then whatever work they do is likely to be incorrect, as well as illegal in some countries.

Covering asbestos is now regarded as the safest way of dealing with it, however not everything can be covered using this technique. Things like pipes can corrode over time, and if they contain asbestos then they will need to be replaced as that is the best option.

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Removing Asbestos

What You Should Know About Asbestos Removal

English: This is a typical asbestos enclosure ...

English: This is a typical asbestos enclosure constructed by Trinitas Contracts in the UK for the removal of asbestos sprayed coating from beams. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’ve found out that your home has asbestos, what are you going to do? Asbestos was used in many homes over the years as it was fire and chemical retardant. Although it would have seemed like a good choice because of those reasons, asbestos has now been found to cause respiratory and lung problems. Because of the popularity of asbestos in building over the years, many older buildings and homes may have asbestos in them. If your home has asbestos in it, you will need to have it assessed for risk. In most cases, it is best to leave it in place and possibly encapsulate it but in some cases, you may need to properly remove it to prevent health problems for you and your family.

When asbestos needs to be removed, it requires a professional asbestos removal team. You should NOT try doing it yourself. If you were to choose to remove the asbestos yourself, you could be breaking the law (in the United Kingdom anyway) and it could end up more costly than having the professionals do it. If you have to have asbestos removed, you should however, have a sample taken (by a qualified asbestos professional) to have it tested to make sure that asbestos is actually present in your home before you start arranging for professional removal.

What do the Professionals do?
Professional asbestos removal companies will know what the country, state or federal regulations are for removing asbestos. They will have or will obtain the necessary permits for asbestos removal in your area. These permits tell them how to handle the removal process, and should also designate a safe disposal area. When they are ready to begin your asbestos removal, the removals people will have a proper system for breathing. Breathing asbestos is very bad for you (it can cause a form of cancer) therefore they need to have a form of breathing ventilation system.They also wear protective clothing that can be disposed of after the work is complete.

It is illegal, in many places, to hire anyone to remove asbestos if they are not professionally qualified and registered. Asbestos needs to be kept wet at all times during its removal as, when asbestos is wet, the fibers will stay in place and won’t become airborne. As the removal proceeds, the removed asbestos is put into sealed storage containers, which will then be taken to a landfill designated to handle asbestos disposal.

Removing asbestos is a long, potentially harmful process. It must be handled with a lot of care as you do not want to cause any health problems for yourself, family, or anyone around. If you need to remove asbestos you MUST contact professionals that specialize in asbestos removal.

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Asbestos fibres - a single fibre is believed t...

Asbestos fibres – a single fibre is believed to cause mesothelioma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)What is asbestos?

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a natural substance: a fibrous mineral, formerly extracted and used in many applications where insulation, heat/fire resistance, chemical resistance and rigidity were important. It was used in construction: in roofs, ceiling and door linings, gutters, downpipes for rain, radiators, boilers, flues and heating pipes, engineering in car brakes and shipyards and was also used in many commercial and household products – for instance, it was often mixed in with other materials such as in: floor tiles, fire blankets, ironing boards and oven gloves. It was very widely used during the twentieth century and most buildings erected during that time will probably have some asbestos somewhere in them.

What are the problems with asbestos now?

English: Asbestos (tremolite) silky fibres on ...

English: Asbestos (tremolite) silky fibres on muscovite from Bernera, Inverness-shire. Photograph taken at the Natural History Museum, London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unfortunately, despite its many uses as an insulator, and even though there are still some products in which it can legally be included, the use of asbestos has now been banned in many areas because it has been found to cause serious health problems, including a type of cancer. It has also been classified as a carcinogen (causes cancer). This cancer-forming property can cause problems where items containing asbestos need to be removed or repaired, such as in a roof. If asbestos is undisturbed there should be no problems but care needs to be taken to avoid fibres being released because they can damage health. There is less risk to health where asbestos is left undisturbed, so it is recommended that any asbestos-containing products that do not need to be removed or repaired are left alone until they come to the natural end of their economic life. This is because, no matter how careful any removal operative is, there will ALWAYS be some fibres released when asbestos is disturbed, so it is better to leave it undisturbed if possible. But it should, of course, be monitored and assessed regularly, to ensure that it continues to be in a safe condition and if not, then the situation should be assessed to check whether a safe repair and seal operation can be carried out. If not, only then should removal be considered.