Asbestos is a very real danger presented within older domestic and business premises. The potential for damage done to builders and other personnel who may be using the property during refurbishment or demolition is not to be taken lightly.
It is therefore of great importance that Asbestos Consultants are brought in at an early stage of any project which is being undertaken. A thorough inspection of buildings where alterations are to be made is a must to avoid any potential damage.
Where is Asbestos Most Commonly Found?
Until it was banned in 1978, Asbestos was widely used in buildings for various purposes. Some of the most common places to find Asbestos are within ceiling tiles, on the back of linoleum flooring, within some plasters, non-bituminous roof felt, wallboard and within thermal insulation on pipes and boilers.
Because Asbestos is at its most dangerous when disturbed, it is imperative that any building to be altered or otherwise disturbed is properly surveyed before work begins.
Any property which was built before the mid-1980s may be considered a risk for Asbestos; this is because although Asbestos was banned within the building trade from 1978, products containing the substance remained on the shelves for some years after this.
Anthophyllite Asbestos Fibres
Image Source: wikipedia.org
Why is Asbestos Dangerous?
When Asbestos is disturbed, microscopic fibres are released into the air and when inhaled they can become permanently lodged within the body’s tissues.
Asbestos inhalation can cause lung cancer and Asbestosis (a chronic lung disease which is similar to Emphysema). It can take more than 20 years after exposure for the symptoms of Asbestosis to appear and they are usually of a life threatening nature.
What to Do When Asbestos is Uncovered Unexpectedly
Asbestos can be contained within the most unexpected areas and therefore it is very important that personnel are aware of risks before they enter any building.
Remember that Asbestos can present very differently depending on what type it is and also the type of materials it is mixed with. This is why it is best to assume that it is present rather than assume that it is not.
If you or anyone you are working with suspects that Asbestos is present in the area, the actions which you take need to be swift. To summarise:
• Stop work immediately
• Check personnel for signs of dust or debris
• If this is present, don breathing apparatus
• Keep people out of the area
• Report the finding to the site manager
• Put up warning signs
Securing a property where Asbestos is present, is of vital importance
Image Source: wikipedia.org
Calling in the Professionals
If any signs of Asbestos are discovered, it is crucial that the person in charge calls in a licensed Asbestos consultant immediately.
Asbestos consultants will be properly equipped to make an initial assessment of the property and to decide what course of action is needed in order to safely remove the Asbestos.
Never attempt to remove or dispose of any materials which may contain Asbestos yourself, it is a highly dangerous undertaking and should only be dealt with by trained professionals.
Burning does not remove Asbestos safely as microscopic fibres will remain even after a fire. Sifting through debris where Asbestos has been found will also put people at risk as the fibres are still found even after high temperatures.
Asbestos is an extremely hazardous material and it is never advisable to remove or to tamper with it. There is no known “safe” quantity of Asbestos with regards to exposure and even the smallest amount needs to be inspected and removed by Asbestos Consultants in the proper manner.
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