Asbestos is a term used for the fibrous forms of several naturally occurring silicate minerals that have been exploited for their useful properties of flexibility, high tensile strength, incombustibility, low thermal conductivity, and resistance to chemical attack.
For regulatory purposes in Britain, the Control of Asbestos Regulations define asbestos as any of the minerals Chrysotile, Crocidolite, Amosite, Fibrous Anthophyllite, fibrous Actinolite or Fibrous Tremolite.
‘Asbestos containing material’ (ACM) is a term used to describe a material which contains any of these regulated fibrous minerals.
Asbestos has been used in an extensive range of building materials over a long period of time. Although extensively used within 1950s through to the 1970s, asbestos was not out right prohibited until late 1999. This extensive use means that there are still many buildings throughout Great Britain which contain asbestos. Where asbestos materials are in a good sealed condition and are unlikely to be disturbed they do not present a risk. However, where the materials are in poor condition or are disturbed or damaged, asbestos fibres are released into the air, which, if breathed in, can cause serious lung diseases, including fatal cancers.
Around 4000 (and rising) people in Great Britain die every year from asbestos-related diseases, making asbestos the single greatest cause of work-related deaths.
It is believed that asbestos was used in over 5000 different building products.
Detailed below are just a few of the common types of products:
Asbestos Composite Products
Vinyl floor tiles, reinforced resin toilet cisterns & seats, resin nosing treads, mastic sink pads, reinforced resin electrical panels, felts, bitumen damp proof courses, gaskets, decorative textured coatings.
Asbestos Cement Products
Corrugated cement roof sheets, cement window panels, cement roof soffits, cement fascia boards, cement water tanks, cement gutters & downpipes
Asbestos Insulating Products
Insulating board wall linings, insulating board soffits, insulating board window panels, insulating board lined fire doors, insulating board fire breaks, mill boards, asbestos textiles, gaskets, ropes and woven textiles, asbestos paper.
Asbestos Thermal Insulation Products
Sprayed coatings, loose fill asbestos, asbestos mattresses and packing, pipe/boiler/calorifier insulation (lagging).