What Is Asbestos and Where Does Asbestos Come From?
Everyone’s heard of asbestos, but comparatively few understand its properties and origins. So if you’ve ever wondered exactly what asbestos is and where asbestos comes from, the following guide provides all the answers you’ll need:
What is asbestos?
Contrary to popular belief, asbestos is in fact a naturally occurring mineral, rather than a manmade material or compound. Due to its extremely impressive fire-resistant properties, it has been used as a valuable building material and for an extensive range of commercial and industrial applications. Asbestos doesn’t conduct electricity, has the capacity to increase the strength of concrete, is lightweight to transport and technically very easy to work with. Hence, asbestos quickly became a trusted material used worldwide for many decades.
Where does asbestos come from?
In its raw form, asbestos is mined from the ground all over the world. The biggest and most successful early asbestos mines were located in Canada – the country quickly becoming the biggest producer of asbestos in the world. Today, there are large-scale mines and processing plants in South Africa, Australia, China, Russia and elsewhere.
Why is asbestos dangerous?
Left undisturbed, asbestos is technically harmless. However, when it is broken, damaged or disturbed in any way, asbestos releases millions of tiny bundles of fibres into the air, contaminating the air in the vicinity or entering nearby water. This often results in the fibres being inhaled or swallowed, which once in the body cannot be broken down and begin causing damage on a permanent basis. Many years later when the symptoms of asbestos exposure become apparent, the particles have already begun eating away at the lungs and their lining, potentially leading to a variety of diseases including cancer.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare form of lung cancer, for which the risk is known to increase exponentially following exposure to asbestos. In fact, the vast majority of identified cases of the disease are attributed directly to asbestos exposure. Unless detected and addressed early, Mesothelioma typically proves fatal.
Is asbestos always dangerous?
Not necessarily, as just as long as the mineral is in good condition and left undisturbed, it poses no direct threat to those in the vicinity. It is only when asbestos fibres are released into the air or nearby water that they pose a threat to human health. This is precisely why the initial detection of asbestos shouldn’t necessarily be a cause for panic. Nevertheless, it is also why it is of critical importance to leave asbestos undisturbed and allow the professionals to remove or contain it safely.
Am I required by law to remove asbestos?
Interestingly, UK law regarding the use and presence of asbestos is relatively vague. However, there is extremely specific legislation with regard to the safe reporting, handling and removal of asbestos where detected. Should you have any suspicion that there may be asbestos present on your premises or within your property, it’s your responsibility to arrange an immediate inspection and any resulting removal works.
If you require an urgent asbestos survey or removal works of any kind, the Amianto team is standing by to take your call. Get in touch today to discuss your requirements in more detail by calling us on 01707 707050.