Asbestos: The silent killer

Where can you find asbestos?

Asbestos is often considered as an industrial material of the 1960s. So it came as quite a shock to me to discover the enormous range of products that contained the various forms of the fibre and just how recently the use of the fibre had been permissible.

Whilst training in Cambridge from 1987 within the UK Construction Industry, I was led to believe the use of the dangerous fibre had been outlawed many years earlier. But reading the HSE.Gov web site I was disappointed to learn that it was used in the construction of all types of buildings including domestic homes up to the year 2000!

The wonder material became popular due to its fantastic range of qualities. Unaffected by extreme levels of heat and boasting fantastic tensile strength it could be used as a product filler and binder proving it wonderfully adaptable.
The word asbestos comes from the ancient Greek ἄσβεστος, meaning “unquenchable” or “inextinguishable”. One of the first descriptions of a material that may have been asbestos is in Theophrastus, On Stones, from around 300 BC, although this identification has been questioned.
What is indisputable is the material has been around for a very long time and repeated generations had adapted and incorporated the material into an ever widening range of products.
More information from the government is available here. This video provides an overview of some of the health risks. While the subject matter is a bit morbid, the content is excellent and was shown during my SMSTS H&S Managers training course.