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What is asbestos

  • Asbestos Surveying
  • Asbestos Management
  • Asbestos consultation
  • Legislation and Regulations
  • Asbestos Articles
Asbestos Surveying1 Asbestos Management2 Asbestos consultation3 Legislation and Regulations4 Asbestos Articles5

Survey Safe is an independent consulting firm

offering comprehensive asbestos surveying

solutions to domestic and industrial clients.

You can be assured that you will be offered

the best possible advice at competitive rates.

What is Asbestos

Asbestos is a generic term given to several natural earth mineral silicates found in seams or veins throughout the world's crust/rock, mainly in Canada, South Africa and Australia.

Asbestos is one of the most pervasive environmental hazards in the world, not only found naturally in the environment but present in more than 3,000 manufactured products. All forms of asbestos can result in asbestosis (a progressive fibrotic disease of the lungs), lung cancer, and mesothelioma, a cancer arising in the membranes lining the pleural and peritoneal cavities of the lung.

There are two types of Silicates: Serpentines and Amphiboles known commonly as white, brown and blue asbestos.

Serpentines

Chrysotile

White asbestos

Amphiboles

Amosite (or grunerite)

  • Anthophyllite
  • Actinolite
  • Tremolite

Brown asbestos

 

Crocidolite

Blue asbestos

625,000 deaths directly related to asbestos exposure

It is predicted that 625,000 deaths will be directly related to asbestos exposure by 2020, an estimate of between 3500 and 4000 dying each year from asbestos related diseases. This yearly figure is still increasing, proving many theories wrong that the death rate would have peaked between 2000 and 2005. This is based on a prediction that the peak of asbestos imports during the late 1960s into the UK and carry a 40 year incubation period for the cancers to develop.

Some of the major types of asbestos fibres and their chemical structures have been extensively reviewed, some of the important mechanisms by which asbestos fibres cause toxicity, by generating iron-derived free radicals as well as reactive nitrogen species (RNS), which in-tern releases cytokines, inducing genotoxicity and altering immune responses. Despite intensive investigation, the precise pathogenic mechanisms by which asbestos fibres cause pulmonary toxicity are not fully established.

Asbestos can induce cancer

Asbestos can induce cancer, which is a multistage process. Cancer initiation occurs when DNA is damaged and is perpetuated by the proliferative signals from the asbestos fibres reacting with cell. These results from altered gene expressions, (increased proto-oncogene or reduced tumour suppresser gene expression). All forms of asbestos induce DNA damage and proliferative signals in relevant lung target cells.

Asbestos Imports in to the United Kingdom

With imports of asbestos into the UK peaking in the late 1960s, when the physical and chemical properties of asbestos surpassed any other man made materials. The following properties are what made asbestos such a valuable product over the years:

  • Fine fibres of Crocidolite and chrysotile are ideal for weaving into textiles
  • Thermal stability makes asbestos suitable for use in friction linings
  • High tensile strength
  • Low thermal conductivity has lead to asbestos being used as an insulation material
  • Resistance to acid attack has widened industrial uses

World Health Organisation (WHO) and Banning Asbestos

Various research by The World Health Organisation (WHO), through its International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and in the collaborative program with the International Program for Chemical Safety (IPCS), made several attempts to assess the effects of asbestos fibres on human health.

Together with the ILO and the UN Environment Program the WHO have continued to assess the effects of different asbestos fibre types on human health, but not in a timely manner as to effect on the continued global use of asbestos (IARC 1973, 1977, 1987, IPCS 1986, 1989, 1996, 1998; WHO 1989, 1997). It was not until 1982 when the Doll and Peto review suggested sufficient evidence of cancer causation, this now include cancer of the larynx, digestive tract, and kidney.

Asbestos Awareness and Management are now critical

Asbestos Awareness and Management are now critical to reducing the health effects on the population that followed the above scientific facts. The UK banded the use of Crocidolite in 1986, Amosite in 1992 and Chrysotile in 1999. This was to save money as the increasing costs in treating patients on the National Health Service and the affect on members families that contracted asbestosis would lead to compensation claims. Alternative products became available as a substitute/alternative material to allow the ban to be introduced without effecting industrial production.

Countries that have ratified the ILO Asbestos Convention (ILO 1986) and the year ratified

Country

Year

Belgium

1996

Bolivia

1990

Bosnia

1993

Brazil

1990

Cameroon

1989

Canada

1988

Chile

1994

Colombia

2001

Croatia

1991

Cyprus

1992

Ecuador

1990

Finland

1988

Germany

1993

Guatemala

1989

Netherlands

1999

Norway

1992

Portugal

1999

Russia

2000

Serbia

2000

Slovenia

1992

Spain

1990

Sweden

1987

Switzerland

1992

Uganda

1990

Uruguay

1995

Zimbabwe

2003

Asbestos bans in ten Asian countries

Country

Crocidolite

Amosite

Chrysotile

China

Yes

No

No

Indonesia

NR

NR

No

Japan

Yes

Yes

No

Korea

Yes

NR

No

Malaysia

Yes

No

No

Philippines

Yes

Yes

No

Singapore

Yes

Yes

No

Taiwan

Yes

Yes

No

Thailand

Yes

Yes

No

Vietnam

No

No

No

Asbestos Awareness and Management focuses on trades working within the construction and refurbishment industries, as plumbers and electricians are typically the most likely trades to be exposed to asbestos materials that have either deteriorated or been inadequately removed over the past 25 years since the first UK ban was introduced.

The Health and Safety Executive have had several advertisement campaigns to highlight the risk of working with asbestos material and for the importance of carrying out refurbishment/demolition surveys prior to carrying out the works. The introduction of regulation 4 now requires the duty holder/landlords to have an up to date asbestos management survey and management plan.

Further Information

If you would like to know more or are interested in a quote we would be happy to help. Phone us on 07730 446 224, email us at info@survey-safe.com or fill in our enquiry form and we will be in touch as soon as possible.

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