“Asbestos” is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral, possessing high-tensile strength, flexibility, chemical resistance, fire resistance and electrical resistance. (NIOSH) The word “Asbestos” is derived from a Greek adjective meaning inextinguishable or inexhaustible.

It was widely used in the construction and shipbuilding industries from 1940 – 1970 and in its heyday there were nore than 3,000 products that contained asbestos in one form or another. It was used as insulating material, sound proofing, textured paints, adhesives and fire-proof textiles and clothing. It is still used in the manufacture of concrete water pipes and roof sheeting.

It is now banned in most countries, but it can still be found in many older buildings.

In the late 1960’s it was discovered that inhaling asbestos fibres can cause certain types of cancers. These cancers primarily affect the lungs, either as cancers of the lung tissue itself (Lung Cancer or Asbestosis) or cancers of the membrane that surrounds the lung cavity (Mesothelioma). The symptoms of theses diseases can take 15 – 40 years to appear, after the initial exposure to airborne asbestos fibres.

Since the early 1980s the importation and manufacture of asbestos products has been banned by most countries, however asbestos-based products are still being produced in some countries.

Safe Management

Asbestos Cleaning must be handled and managed properly. The first step is to carry out a detailed survey by qualified inspectors to ascertain the existence, whereabouts and condition of all the asbestos containing materials (ACM). This will involve taking bulk and air samples of the suspected materials and area for laboratory analysis to establish the asbestos type and content percentage.