Asbestos was known as the miraculous building material but was banned in the 1960s once discovered that exposure to the fibres could cause the deadly lung cancer mesothelioma.
Asbestos is a term that applies to a group of six minerals and is derived from “asbestiform”. The fibrous structure gives them strength and flexibility , three of which were commonly used in the building trade – Chrysotile, or white asbestos, is the most frequently found in buildings today, Amosite (brown asbestos) and Crocidolite (blue asbestos) are the more dangerous forms.
It is a common mis-consception that only those who worked with asbestos eg pipe laggers, builders, carpenters pre 1970s where the ones who contracted the deadly mesothelioma cancer. However, current statistics show that we are at the peak of a mesothelioma epidemic, and many of the sufferers were not in any of these hazardous occupations or were aware they were exposed to any asbestos fibres. These sufferers can only trace back to their workplaces which contained asbestos, including hospitals and large retailers. It was used in many public buildings, including the Houses of Parliament, schools, libraries, offices and town halls.
Asbestos is so harmful as the needle-shaped fibres are inhaled and pushed into the lining of the lungs. Usual cancer treatments are mostly unsuccessful and half of the sufferers die within 8 months of diagnosis. It is estimated that between 1970 and 2050 some 90,000 people will have died from this cancer.
The HSE have updated the Approved code of practice on Asbestos to assist employers in meeting their ongoing responsibilities to ensure the health and safety of both their employees and others who may be effected. Find the new version of L143 via http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/l143.pdf.