What is asbestos?
Asbestos is the name used for a range of natural minerals. There are three main types:
- Blue (Crocidolite)
- Brown (Amosite)
- White (Chrysotile)
The type of asbestos cannot be identified just by its colour. Asbestos has been used in a very large number of products, many of which have been used in buildings. Some products have one type of asbestos in them while others have mixtures of two or more. All types of asbestos can be dangerous.
Why is asbestos dangerous?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral found throughout the world. When crushed it breaks down into fibres. They are the smallest natural fibres in the world and cannot be seen with the naked eye and can easily be breathed in.
These fibres have great qualities and are easily added into other materials. The HSE consider there to be at least 3000 products that can contain asbestos.
Asbestos fibres are only dangerous if they are made airborne and breathed in. They can remain in the lungs for many years and may go on to cause cancer. There are no safe types of asbestos and all can be fatal if breathed in.
As there is no safe cigarette, there is no safe asbestos!
Who is likely to be exposed to asbestos fibres?
Research has suggested that the groups most at risk are those who carry out building maintenance and refurbishment work, for example (this is not a complete list, nor in any particular order):