Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, mined extensively and utilised due to its insulating and fire resistant properties throughout buildings both domestic & industrial as far back as the 1800's. Asbestos does not burn or degenerate, it provides insulation from noise, cold and heat. Asbestos is virtually indestructible – the only way to safely dispose of asbestos once removed is to contain it in secure landfill sites.
Asbestos Insulation Board (found commonly in attics, and as dividing walls between garages and houses used as firebreaks)
Asbestos Thermal Insulation (lagging used on heating pipes from boilers)
Asbestos Rope Seals (seals on old range cookers and boilers)
Asbestos corrugated sheeting (roofing on houses, warehousing and factories)
Asbestos containing vinyl floor tiles as well as the underlying adhesive/bitumen
Asbestos toilet seats & cisterns
Asbestos containing roof slates
Many other products and applications
Should asbestos products be in good condition (undamaged) and undisturbed, then there is generally a low health risk. When asbestos is disturbed it releases fibres into the air where they can be inhaled or ingested. It is these fibres that are harmful. Many of the fibres will become trapped in the mucous membranes of the nose and throat where they can then be removed, but some may pass deep into the lungs, or, if swallowed, into the digestive tract. Once they are trapped in the body, the fibres can cause serious health problems, such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
It should be recognised that every day thousands of people are at risk by working on buildings and dwellings where asbestos is still present. If the building is dated pre 2000, asbestos products could be present. If you are aware that asbestos is present in your bulding or business premises ten there is a legal requirement to either remove the asbestos or put in place a management plan to ensure that the asbestos is maintained in a safe state.
For more information, please see the guidelines issued by the Health & Safety Authority.
If you would like more information on asbestos, and what it is, then make sure to read our blog: Everything You Need to Know About Asbestos