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What is asbestos?

Asbestos is the general name given to several naturally occurring minerals that have been crystallised to form fibres. It was commonly used in the construction industry for years thanks to its resistant properties but had a controversial reputation because of the risks linked to heavy exposure. Its association with several (and often fatal) respiratory diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and pleural thickening means the importing and using asbestos has been completely banned in the UK since 1999. While this was made legal to protect workers' health within the building trade, the 5,000 asbestos-related deaths that occur each year still make its risks relevant.

The good news is that more people than ever are aware of the safety concerns posed by these fibres, which is why a certified asbestos removal service should be employed to handle and dispose of them accordingly. Here we take a closer look at the pros and cons of asbestos and why dealing with it is best left to the professionals:

The advantages of asbestos

Asbestos is known to increase the energy efficiency of a building thanks to its insulating properties. It is also highly resistant to fire and heat, and is extremely durable and weather-proof. Because of its wide range of properties, it was commonly used throughout the construction industry in various disciplines and remained a popular material for a long time. Amongst its different uses, it formed a solid material when mixed with cement, so it was frequently chosen as an additive to form asbestos cement. It was also used as a protective roofing material and commonly found in lagging floor tiles, Apex, toilet cisterns and insulating materials for boilers.

As well as being resilient and multi-functional, asbestos was known for being low maintenance and easy to clean. It was also very inexpensive to buy, making it one of the most cost-effective materials throughout the construction industry in its heyday.

The disadvantages of asbestos

The main disadvantage of using asbestos is its determinantal effect on health. When disturbed, asbestos can release micro-particles into the air that can cause serious illnesses if they're regularly inhaled over some time. Because of their hazardous reputation, new materials are now being manufactured to replace asbestos, which is banned in the UK. However, asbestos can still be a source of anxiety and is often regarded as a grey area due to its complex structure. When undisturbed, it is little cause for concern, but assessing its presence is a legal requirement for individuals in charge of non-domestic premises. Likewise, if you suspect your home contains asbestos, it's worth speaking to professionals who will advise on the best way to handle the situation.

Use a certified asbestos removal service

When dealing with hazardous material like asbestos, it's always worth speaking to a certified business that will be well-acquainted with the legal safety regulations. In some instances, asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) can be coated and treated with a method called asbestos encapsulation, which is a quick solution that stops the fibres from escaping into the atmosphere. If asbestos needs to be removed from the premises, the process is considered by the HSE to be high risk, so all safety precautions must be followed. Once removed, the ACMs must be disposed of correctly to comply with relevant legislation. All professionals involved in the process are highly trained to keep risks at a minimum and will be able to provide peace of mind that the premises are as safe as possible.

If you have any questions about asbestos or want to find out more about an asbestos removal service, please call Chirmarn Asbestos Specialists on 0191 414 8000. You can also fill out the contact form on our website or email info@chirmarn.co.uk.