shared Uses of Asbestos
The hazards posed to human health by prolonged exposure to asbestos fibres have been well-proven and publicised over the past few decades and most people will know that asbestos exposure can cause a number of serious lung diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. But perhaps what is less well-known is the extent to which we can nevertheless find asbestos on both industrial and residential buildings.
Below is a list of some of the most shared uses of asbestos-containing products and whilst the production of such items is banned in most western countries, these product nevertheless exist in our buildings today.
Used in damp-proof courses, coatings for the underside of car bodies, flashings, gutter linings and roof shingles. This kind of material has a low risk of releasing fibres under normal conditions.
Weaving asbestos fibres into fabric minimises fibre release to the surroundings provided the material is not cut. But asbestos cloth will become more friable over time. This kind of product can be found as pipe lagging and in boilers, ovens and chimney flues.
Containing anything between 20 – 50% asbestos, composite materials have been used for a wide range of products such as car batteries, banisters, seats, toilet cisterns. However, because of the time of action used to create the material, fibres are doubtful to be released already if the material is cut.
Although the chances of fibres being release from are low under normal conditions, they can be release when the tiles are cut. And if the floor is sanded after removal of the tiles then this is very likely to release fibres into the surrounding space. Floor tiles typically contained up to 25% asbestos.
Asbestos was widely used for this kind of product and in many situations consisted of 100% asbestos fibres.
Often found in fire doors, wall partitions, ceiling panels, domestic boilers and oven linings. The manufacture of asbestos containing insulation boards continued up until 1980. They can contain up to 40% asbestos.
Spray coatings contain a comparatively high proportion of asbestos up to 85% and can release fibres if the surface is damaged or if the coating becomes separated from the inner surface. If this happens there is the possibility of hazardous dust building up. Spray coatings containing asbestos were used up until the mid-1970s.
Artex produced up until 1999 contained low amounts of chrysotile (between 3 – 5%) but because of existing stocks nevertheless being obtainable asbestos has been found in ceilings coated as late as 2004.
Asbestos was widely used in pre-formed sections for pipe lagging and often painted with latex, PVC or bitumen which encapsulated the fibres.
This is usually 100% chrysotile and if not bonded to another product such as bitumen or vinyl (in the case of floor tiles) then fibres can easily be release due to the ease with which paper is worn or damaged. It was used as a lining for roofing felt, damp-proof course, wall cladding and flooring.
Spray coatings contain a comparatively high proportion of asbestos up to 85% and can release fibres if the surface is damaged or if the coating becomes separated from the inner surface. If this happens there is the possibility of hazardous dust building up. Spray roof coatings containing asbestos were used up until the mid-1970s.
Contains 10-15% asbestos, most usually chrysotile, but the fibres are encased in the cement material. They only present a health risk if the material is broken up, particularly with the use of strength tools. Large surface areas unprotected to for a long time like industrial roofing can, over time, cause the cement sheets forming the panels on asbestos roofs to break down and release the fibres.