Over exposure to asbestos has been linked with the development of several terminal illnesses, such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. Although the use of asbestos is now illegal, it is still present in some old homes.
Asbestos was most widely used between the 1950s and 1970s. It was a popular building material because of its for its desirable qualities. Asbestos was extremely resistant to fire and had excellent insulation properties. However, problems began when it was found that exposure to asbestos can be deadly. When this link was made, most forms of asbestos were outlawed and its use discontinued. However, it wasn’t until 1999 that all forms of asbestos were made illegal.
London was an area that saw a lot of property development during the years that asbestos use was prevalent. A lot of redevelopment of old Georgian houses took place in the asbestos era. A lot of post-war style flats also sprung up in the area around this time.
Therefore, you may be at risk from asbestos exposure if you live in a property that was built or redeveloped between the 1950s and the 1970s. However, because not all forms of asbestos were banned until 1999, some more recent properties may still have had asbestos used in them.
Asbestos may seem like a thing from the past; however, the death rate in the UK from asbestos related illnesses is the highest in the world. If you live in the UK, you are five times more likely to develop mesothelioma than in the US.
The onset of asbestos related illnesses can be delayed for up to 30 years; a person may even die before their death is linked to asbestos exposure. Although a ruling by the Supreme Court in 2011 means that it is now possible to claim mesothelioma compensation on behalf of a dead relative, this doesn’t reverse the trauma of losing a loved one, so it’s vital to get your property checked.
Places that you might find that asbestos include ceilings, floor tiles, wall linings and boilers. However, visual inspection of suspected asbestos isn’t sufficient to positively identify the material. Instead a sample needs to be collected from any suspected asbestos and sent to The National Institute for Standards and Technology for testing, collection of which should be left to a licenced professional.
If it is confirmed that do have asbestos your home, it is vital not to disturb it. Asbestos per se is not harmful; however, if the material is agitated lots of small particles can come loose. Asbestos related illnesses can start to develop when these airborne fibres are inhaled.
Although if left alone, there should be no threat from a lot of forms of asbestos, it can still be worrying to know that you have a potential killer lying dormant inside your house. If you want to have the threat neutralised, you can either have the asbestos covered or removed.
It is possible to remove or cover asbestos yourself; however, it is essential to take certain safety precautions, such as clearing the area of work and wearing the correct equipment. In most cases, it is again best to leave the work to a licenced professional.