Asbestos is one of the most noxious legacies of the twentieth century. Despite the fact that it was officially delegalized by a 1999 ban, there are still thousands of properties across the UK where it is utilized. Unfortunately, it is highly probable that the problem is going to become more and more pressing as years go by because of this material’s deterioration. Any attempts at conducting redecorations or demolitions of places containing asbestos can lead to grave health risks such as lung cancer, mesothelioma or asthma.
Worse still, there are no exceptions as for the people who could be affected by asbestos exposure – both children and seniors can develop serious symptoms related to this material and, potentially, shorten their lifespan. This is why people should be constantly made aware of the gravity of the situation with asbestos exposure and how dastardly a material it can be.
My workplace contains asbestos – should I be concerned?
Being exposed to asbestos is certainly one of the biggest health and safety misconducts that employers should avoid at all costs. Having said that, it is obviously easier said than done, especially that sometimes asbestos can reside in very insidious places such as piping or roofing where it is not seen at first sight. Even if it was, though, some kinds of this material are difficult to classify at first and need to be properly investigated and analysed by professionals to be deemed as safe or requiring removal.
The bottom line is, though, that no person without proper expertise, gear and experience should make an attempt at removing it. If cases such as these happen, one is highly encouraged to discuss and report the concerns to the health and safety representative in order to organise an inspection. Having said that, the case may well be that the material is well-preserved and does not pose an actual threat that would require prompt action.
Moreover, one has to be aware of the fact that when asbestos is disturbed, it removes the noxious fibres which can end up depositing in the respiratory tract and significantly lower life expectancy. What is even more treacherous about the material is the fact that the symptoms connected with diseases such as mesothelioma or asbestosis can come to light only after 20 or 30 years. Finally, there are no safe limits of asbestos exposure so even the smallest of exposures can negatively impact people’s life in the future and lower the well-being in the later years.
What is asbestos risk register all about?
Asbestos risk register could be described as an analysis of the material that resides in your dwelling. It is conducted in order to establish the condition of asbestos and judge whether there is a need to undertake immediate measures to dispose of it. It is also important for such a report to be updated on a regular basis so that any possible deteriorations of the material are accounted for.
That very documents do not have to be issued on paper, there are multiple templates that will help you get all the necessary information up to date. This is of crucial importance, especially considering the fact that asbestos removal is often conducted based on the information included in that report. Experts indicate that the components containing this carcinogenic material used to be most popular between 1940s and 1980s. That means that there are millions of houses that can still hide a ticking bomb inside.
Needless to say that the government legislations did not do much to get rid of the existing traces of asbestos and people all over the work have been left alone with that pressing issue. However, we also advise that dwellings that were erected before 1999 should definitely have similar surveys done in order to ascertain that no asbestos remnants reside there and the very building is safe to use. Not abiding by that rule may result in subsequent higher cost of removal which will also have to be preceded by a thorough, rather time-consuming survey. Moreover, the components have to be evidenced and properly described which, in turn, ensures more safety in the workplace or a dwelling.
Is risk assessment necessary before I start work on asbestos?
That is a very valid and thoughtful question. Asbestos is too dangerous a substance to be handled on your own, without the supervision of professionals and proper protective gear. It has to be borne in mind that when this material is released into the air, it instantaneously becomes a legitimate health risk that may not reveal its consequences for decades. These factors render asbestos removal such an important process.
However, before it is conducted, usually a special assessment is done in order to establish whether this material is indeed present on site and, if so, how urgently it needs to be got rid of. The condition of asbestos is one of the most crucial parts of the process and constitutes a basis for preparing a further work blueprint. If it turns out that the ACM (asbestos containing materials) are on the verge of crumbling, urgent measures will have to be taken.
Sometimes, however, that is not the case and a less pressing situation can actually allow for scoping the removal process with as many details and extreme consideration for the building. In situations like these, our inspectors pay utmost attention to work out a plan that will take into account any possible obstacles so that getting rid of remaining asbestos is appropriately safe. Notwithstanding this fact, it is worth having the assessment done as very often the buildings we live on work in can hide dirty secrets.
Fortunately, the time has come for technology and experts to help companies and individuals get rid of that nagging legacy and restore risk-free living environment.
What are the health risks from asbestos?
The ruinous consequences of being exposed to asbestos have been well documented in the medical reports and statistics. Diseases related to this substance every year claim the lives of up to 5000 people every year, leaving others seriously incapacitated and with shortened life expectancy. The toxic fibres, when inhaled, deposit in lungs and can cause ailments such as pleura or asbestosis. In a long run, exposure can trigger mesothelioma or lung cancer.
What makes it even more deceptive is the fact that the symptoms of the disease can appear after as much as a couple decades, often too late for the patient to be fully recuperated. While small amounts of asbestos exposure may not directly lead to the aforementioned diseases, prolonged and regular (e.g. occupational) contact with the material has been linked with increased risk of contracting severe illnesses of the respiratory tract.
One of the most telling examples of asbestos-related illness is the case of the World Trace Center towers which, while collapsing, have released tons of toxic fibres into the atmosphere. The rescue workers who worked at the site have soon after started falling seriously sick, complaining about respiratory problems and contracting grave illnesses such as cancers. Thus, it cannot be ruled out that the older buildings can be similarly dangerous when it comes to conducting redecorations or demolishing walls. Toxic dust, when it gets into the air, may pose a tremendous threat to the well-being of yours and your immediate surrounding.
Moreover, among the several factors which are listed as the ones which help to determine the asbestos exposure are dose, duration of contact, source and factors such as previous health issues. There is a significant body of research claiming that the combination of smoking and inhaling asbestos is particularly health-damaging and can radically decrease the life expectancy.
Still not convinced? Maybe you recognize some of these symptoms: shortness of breath, appetite loss or extreme exhaustion? If you complain of any of these and you have lived in an old building, you may seriously consider contacting your GP in order to have all the necessary checkups done.