Asbestos – What Is It?

Asbestos – What Is It?

Asbestos, a mineral with tough fibers, has been widely used in various industries for its heat-resistant, electrically insulating, and corrosion-resistant properties. However, exposure to asbestos can have severe health consequences, including the development of serious illnesses such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and laryngeal cancer. In Northern Ireland, the issue of asbestos exposure is a significant concern, particularly in cities like Belfast where many public and private building contain asbestos. This article will delve into the dangers of asbestos exposure in Northern Ireland and shed light on the importance of asbestos surveys conducted by qualified professionals.

The Presence of Asbestos in Northern Ireland

Asbestos was extensively used in buildings and various products in Northern Ireland until its ban in 1999. Many older structures, including residential and commercial buildings, may still contain asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). Belfast, being the capital city and an industrial hub, has a higher likelihood of buildings with ACMs. It is crucial to understand the risks associated with asbestos exposure and take appropriate measures to mitigate them.

Health Risks of Asbestos Exposure

Exposure to asbestos fibers can lead to several asbestos-related diseases, the most severe of which is mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that primarily affects the lining of the lungs or abdomen. Other types of cancer, such as lung, ovarian, and laryngeal cancer, can also be caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos fibers, when inhaled or ingested, can become trapped in the body, leading to inflammation, scarring, and the development of these deadly diseases.

Types of Asbestos

Asbestos can be classified into two main types: amphibole and serpentine. Amphibole asbestos fibers are straight and jagged, while serpentine asbestos fibers are curly. The six recognized types of asbestos are actinolite, amosite, anthophyllite, crocidolite, tremolite, and chrysotile (commonly known as “white asbestos”). All types of asbestos have been classified by various regulatory agencies as cancer-causing substances.

Asbestos-Containing Products in Northern Ireland

Before its ban, asbestos was used in a wide range of products, including insulation materials, cement, roofing shingles, automotive brake pads, and vinyl tiles. Many buildings in Northern Ireland may still contain these products, posing a risk of asbestos exposure during renovation or demolition work. It is crucial for those involved in these activities to be aware of potential ACMs and take appropriate precautions to prevent the release of asbestos fibers.

Remember, if you suspect the presence of asbestos or require any asbestos-related services in Northern Ireland, consult a qualified asbestos surveyor such as ourselves on the number below or a removal specialist to ensure the safety of yourself and those around you.

Our team of professional asbestos surveyors can help you get an asbestos register in place so that asbestos related issues are avoided.