When speaking about any form of construction, or health and safety, sooner or later the word ‘asbestos’ creeps up. It is a simple word but it strikes fear into most that hear it. And rightly so, though few know exactly why they should be worried about this material. So we thought we would explain, a little bit, about what asbestos is, and why it is such blight in our society.
Asbestos is actually a naturally occurring rock. There are three types of asbestos:
- Crocidolite (also known as blue asbestos)
- Amosite (also known as brown asbestos)
- Chrysotile (also known as white asbestos)
It has been used in construction since the 1950s. It was originally used as it is a good insulator, it has fire retardant properties and it protects against corrosion. These three properties, coupled with the fact that it was easy to produce/acquire, meant that it had uses across the entire spectrum of the construction industry.
Because of this for nearly 50 years it was used everywhere. From homes, to industrial buildings, warehouses, hospitals and schools.
However, after a number of years certain health and safety issues started to emerge. It was noticed that an extraordinarily high number of people working with, and around asbestos were being diagnosed with mesothelioma, an extremely dangerous form of lung cancer. Before long it was concluded that asbestos was indeed the cause.
This is why, in 1999 it was made illegal to use in the UK, which was definitely a step in the right direction. But, it had been used widely in construction for nearly 50 years. There are cases where entire streets had been diagnosed with mesothelioma because asbestos was used in the roof of a nearby factory, and the wind was carrying the fibres.
It has also come to light recently that there is an entire generation of teachers, and to a lesser extent students, that are being diagnosed with mesothelioma as they spent many of their working years in schools with asbestos installed.
It can also quite often be found in homes. One common area it was used was as insulation around boilers. Or, another common area was in garages.
Now there is a cottage industry that has grown around the dismantling, safe removal and disposal of asbestos. There are specialist courses engineers and builders can attend, and personal protection equipment that can be worn in order to protect people against the hazardous effects of asbestos.
If you fear your garage may have asbestos in it, and it very well may do if it was built before 1999, then simply contact a quality concrete garage provider who will be able to carry out a survey and remove any asbestos present. They will also, if required, but able to build you a new garage in place of the old one.