Asbestos: myths and facts

Nearly everyone has heard about the dangers of asbestos - but this means that an equal number of people have also heard some of the misinformation that has been spread about it. Asbestos is quite a taboo subject and it’s not discussed often enough, so we’re here to debunk five of the most common myths about asbestos:

1. All asbestos containing materials are deadly and need to be removed

While the intentions behind this myth are good, it is untrue that all asbestos containing materials (ACM) need to be removed.

As we discussed in our previous blog post, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), any ACM that are in good condition are considered safe - it is only when materials are damaged and asbestos fibres become airborne that they are dangerous.

Many asbestos products that are intact and in good condition can be encapsulated to seal in the asbestos, and extend the lifespan of the product.

2. It’s safe to remove asbestos yourself

There’s a lot of misinformation surrounding the removal of asbestos and we’ve often heard people suggest that it is safe to do yourself, as long as you wear a dust mask - this is incorrect.

Asbestos that has been disturbed or damaged poses a huge risk and can potentially be deadly, meaning it’s at its most dangerous during removal. Because of the danger involved, asbestos removal should only be carried out by licensed professionals and you should not attempt to remove ACM from any building if you have not had the required training to do so.

3. All asbestos products look the same

Often, it is assumed that all asbestos looks like fluffy insulation, so it can be identified just by looking at it. However, asbestos was so widely used that it could be present in any building material - from ceiling tiles to paint. Because there is the potential to find asbestos anywhere, you should not assume that it can be identified just by looking - to find out if asbestos is present in a product, samples need to be taken and thoroughly tested in a lab.

4. White asbestos is not dangerous

While Amosite (brown asbestos) and Crocidolite (blue asbestos) are considered the most hazardous forms of asbestos, this does not mean that white asbestos is not dangerous. Chrysotile (white asbestos) can still cause serious health issues and should be treated just as seriously.

Since asbestos was banned there’s no need to worry about it anymore

Asbestos may have been banned in 1999, but that in no way means that it’s not still a concern. Any property that was built before 2000 could potentially contain asbestos in some form.

In 2011 it was estimated that over half of all residential properties in Britain contained asbestos, as well as countless other public, commercial and industrial buildings (read about some of the common areas it can be found here). 

And while the asbestos in a building might not pose an immediate risk, it is still crucial that you are aware of the hazard and have a professional assess and monitor any ACM you do find.

Read our FAQs page for more information on questions regularly asked about asbestos and the removal of asbestos. 

BLS Asbestos are HSE licensed asbestos contractors with over 20 years’ experience in the survey, management and removal of asbestos from residential, commercial and industrial buildings.

For more information on our asbestos services, or to book a free, no-obligation site visit, contact us via the website, or call BLS Asbestos on 01484 400558.

Published: 11th January 2018

Author: Charles Burke

Charles is currently the Managing Director of BLS Asbestos and has nearly 20 years experience within the asbestos surveying and removal business.

His main priority is ensuring that the business always operates within the necessary health and safety guidelines that look after both his staff and clients when removing asbestos. This is further backed-up by his BSc Occupational Health and Safety degree that he attained at the University of Leeds. 

Find out more about Charles' skills and accreditations within the asbestos removal industry via his LinkedIn page

"BLS Asbestos provide a professional and quality service enabling Hanover to deal with issues arising from the management of asbestos in compliance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006."

Asbestos Removal from Social Housing for Hanover Housing

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