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Common Myths About Asbestos

Posted on by Asbestos Waste Solutions Limited

Asbestos has been used here in the UK for many years, and while asbestos has been banned as a construction material for decades now, it is still present throughout many buildings in the country.

While we know that asbestos is a dangerous material, being responsible for thousands of fatalities – particularly where labourers are concerned – there are also a number of misconceptions which cloud our understanding of asbestos, and exactly how harmful it can be. In this article, we look at some of the myths surrounding asbestos, clearing up some of the facts so you know exactly what you’re dealing with.


Myth: Asbestos is easy to recognise and identify by sight

Fact: Asbestos saw widespread use in the 20th century, and can be found today in a wide range of building materials and products, in public, commercial and domestic buildings.

Some materials might display a mark, notifying that asbestos has been used during construction or manufacture, but most do not. Asbestos is impossible to identify by simply looking at it, and expert analysis will be required to test for its presence – often requiring specialist laboratories to deliver conclusive evidence.

Because of this, it’s important for older properties to be inspected before any renovation or demolition is performed, so any asbestos can be professionally identified and safely removed.


Myth: Asbestos only affects those who have worked with it

Fact: Technically, anyone is at risk of asbestos exposure. It’s true that construction and demolition workers are at a greater risk, but asbestos fibres can be inhaled by anyone. If an asbestos-containing material is disturbed, the microscopic asbestos fibres are released into the air, and can be inhaled by anyone in the vicinity. Secondhand exposure can also occur. Workers who fail to remove or properly clean their clothes after their shift can transport fibres on their clothes, and these fibres can subsequently be shaken off into the air, and inhaled by others.


Myth: Asbestos-related diseases develop shortly after exposure

Fact: One of the most important things to remember about asbestos is that symptoms can take years to develop, often upwards of 15 years. This means exposure when you’re young may not have any adverse impact on you until middle age, and can often come as completely unexpected or hard to identify. The long latency period of asbestos-related diseases makes them so difficult to treat, so it’s important to seek professional medical at the sign of any symptoms, especially if you have been exposed to asbestos numerous times in the past.


Myth: Asbestos-related diseases are contagious

Fact: The diseases commonly related to asbestos exposure (lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis) are not contagious. The fibres themselves can be transferred to other people, via clothing or through the air, but the diseases only affect those who are exposed.


Myth: Just being around asbestos can cause you harm

Fact: While asbestos can be incredibly harmful, this is only when asbestos fibres are released into the air and inhaled. Materials which contain asbestos are safe as long as they are not disturbed – like they are during construction or demolition work.


Myth: If asbestos is present in your home, it should be removed immediately

Fact: As we’ve previously mentioned, asbestos is harmless as long as the fibres aren’t released. If your home does contain asbestos, you don’t have to rush to get it removed immediately, but you should contact professional asbestos surveyors and removers if you plan to make any renovations or structural changes to your property.


Myth: If you wear a mask, you can remove asbestos yourself

Fact: The risks involved with disturbing and removing asbestos means that only professional, certified asbestos removers are qualified to remove it. Microscopic asbestos fibres require specialist training and equipment, and standard dust or respiratory masks are not substantial. Asbestos also needs to be properly stored, transported and disposed of after removal, and this also requires professional attention.

If you need asbestos removing from your premises, don’t attempt to do so yourself. Make sure to leave the material alone, and call in the professionals to survey, identify and deal with the material for you.


Asbestos Waste Solutions have over 20 years of experience when it comes to the safe disposal of asbestos. We provide a professional, meticulous service to commercial, industrial and domestic clients, delivering asbestos to our transfer station to ensure efficient asbestos disposal across the UK. To find out more about our services, dont hesitate to get in touch with us today.

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