We find it amazing that although it has been used for centuries, and during the industrial revolution to a far greater extent – it was finally diagnosed as responsible for deaths by the early 1900’s – yet it took the better part of a century for it to be banned totally in the UK!
Over 4,000 deaths a year in the UK are asbestos related, worldwide it is predicted that 2 million will die in the next 20 years. Not all of these are the employees that you would imagine to be more exposed. Some are wives of these workers who have been unlucky enough to breathe in the fibres from their husband’s work clothes.
Sadly it does not take a huge amount of asbestos to cause the harm – sometimes even a little bit is enough. Because of the Two Towers horror, there is a potential for 410,000 people, who were exposed to the dust cloud following the collapse, to have inhaled asbestos and may suffer in the next few years to the cancerous dangers of asbestos. There are already deaths attributed to this and although it usually takes 20 to 50 years for the effects to become deadly, it is thought because of the extreme amount of breathable asbestos dust, the disease has been sped up. Over 40 tons was used in the building of these towers – the UK is much the same in its use of asbestos.
There are three main types of asbestos, some are worse than others but none of them are nice once they have been damaged.
Asbestos has been useful for its insulation properties (heat and noise in particular) but it has been at a much higher cost than anyone thought possible. Don’t get us wrong, it is safe and does a brilliant job, but once it has been damaged it is a killer.
Schools and hospitals built before 1985 are prime areas for asbestos to have been incorporated into the building structure. Was your house built before 2000 and particularly before 1985? Then it is likely that you have had or still have asbestos lurking in some parts of your home!
Builders & Occupiers
(Building, Plumbing, Electrical, Joinery, Carpentry, Surveying, Architects)
Employees, Children & Visitors
(Commonly used in old school buildings)
Employees, Patients & Visitors
(Commonly used in old hospitals)
Fire & Rescue
Firemen, other Emergency Services, Injured People, General Public
(Inhalation of fibres in building & fire retardant product broken down & released by fire)
Demolition & Explosions
Employees & General Public
(Disturbance of Asbestos when demolishing old buildings)
The table above shows how many establishments, and the people who are most at risk.
A recent survey of 153 schools by the HSE revealed that 44 schools neeed intervention as a minimum reaction by the HSE. This is why the number of school caretakers who now have asbestosis or related diseases are on the increase.