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Does Asbestos Decompose?

Posted on by Asbestos Waste Solutions Limited

Asbestos is one of history’s most popular construction materials. It was commonly used throughout the 20th century during the construction of a wide variety of buildings, both domestic and public, and it wasn’t until decades of mainstream use that the dangers of asbestos became apparent.

The use of asbestos was fully banned in 1999 in the UK, and government initiatives to remove remaining asbestos have been in motion for years. But despite the fact that asbestos has not been used in construction for over fifteen years, there remains a large amount of asbestos in many buildings throughout the country.

An immediate thought might be that, if it is properly concealed, we could simply wait it out. That is, if left for long enough, the asbestos that partly constitutes some of our buildings might eventually decompose. The team at Asbestos Waste Solutions are here to provide the answer to this question, and what it might imply.

What is asbestos?

Essentially, asbestos is a silicate, or more accurately, a set of silicates formed by thin crystalline fibres. These fibres can then be ‘spun’ into other materials such as cement, forming a robust compound material. It is also these fibres that are eventually released into the air through abrasion, and can prove fatal to humans.

So, can it decompose?

Unfortunately silicates do not decompose, so the short answer is no – asbestos will not decompose. However, the cement to which it is attached certainly will, perhaps giving the impression that the asbestos has dissolved with it. Sadly, this is not the case. In fact, the asbestos will remain, ultimately, unchanged.

It’s not indestructible, though, at extremely high temperatures the asbestos will eventually breakdown into what is essentially sand, making it harmless and, for all intents and purposes, disposed of. Unfortunately, this is not a viable option for getting rid of asbestos, meaning that, for us, it must treated as something inextinguishable.

What does this mean?

Consequently, simply waiting for asbestos to decompose is not an option. Instead, it must be buried in a secure area and monitored. However, this can only be carried out by a professional asbestos removal service such as Asbestos Waste Solutions, in order to avoid any serious harm coming to those with a lack of proper knowledge and gear. As such, attempting to perform such a procedure is ill-advised. For example, if you were to smash through a wall that contained asbestos, this would completely disintegrate the wall itself leaving only the asbestos fibres in the air, putting anyone in the room in danger.

Asbestos Waste Solutions provide safe and efficient asbestos disposal for commercial and domestic customers throughout the UK. We have over 20 years of experience in the industry and work with absolute professional care at all times to ensure the safest, most efficient asbestos disposal possible. To find out more about our services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today – our friendly team are always happy to help.

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