There are three main types of fibrous asbestos:
- White Asbestos – Chrysotile
- Brown Asbestos – Amosite/Grunerite
- Blue Asbestos – Crocidolite
Asbestos was widely used in a large number of building materials due to its excellent insulation properties and incombustibility. However, in 1999 it was finally banned for use in UK manufacturing and construction as all types of asbestos are extremely dangerous, being category 1 carcinogens. Exposure to Asbestos is primarily caused through inhalation of unsealed Asbestos fibres and can lead to diseases such as Asbestosis, Lung Cancer or Mesothelioma. When considering how to avoid the risks from asbestos e.g. for small building works, no employee should be asked to carry out work which disturbs the fabric of the building unless the employer or Principal Contractor has confirmed that Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) are not present. Therefore, before commencing building renovation work it is important to instruct a refurbishment survey to identify that it is a safe working environment for all contractors.
Five Common uses for asbestos
- Spray asbestos coatings (fire protection) and pipework insulation lagging.
- Low density, soft surfaced, thermal insulation board – ‘asbestolux’ (A.I.B) and millboard..
- High density, hard surface materials – asbestos cement products – this is by far the most common use – containing Chrysotile.
- Shipbuilding – asbestos was considered ideal for use aboard ships until the 1980s. Asbestos could be found in the engine and boiler rooms, as well as in the walls, floors and ceilings of rooms such as the sleeping quarters and the galley.
- Ropes, yarns, cloths, gaskets, plastic, paper, textured coatings, vinyl floor tiles and stair nosings.
Asbestos has been used in literally hundreds of applications and is found in many locations.
While there are over 80,000 products that have been found to contain asbestos, here is a short guide to the most common types of uses; but this is by no means exhaustive.
- Floor tiles and sheet flooring
- Construction mastics & putties
- Acoustic/decorative plaster (artex)
- Textured paints/coatings
- Ceiling tiles/panels
- Spray coatings
- Pipework lagging
- Water tanks
- Soffits/fascia boards
- Brake linings
- Bituminous felts
- Roofs, gutters, downpipes
- Wall Panels
- Door linings
- Fuse Boxes
- Fire safes/filing cabinets
- Taping compounds (thermal)
- Packing materials – floor & walls
- Loft insultation
- Ventilation systems
- School blackboards
- Skirtings and Facings
- Stair Nosings
- Toilet Seats and Cisterns