Before we became aware of the risks posed by asbestos, it was a popular building material. It could be combined with other materials to be used in a variety of ways, and offered several advantages:
• It can be used as effective fire protection, and is found in coatings sprayed onto structural supports.
• Asbestos has insulating properties that have proved useful in building construction. The substance can be found in insulating boards as well as pipe lagging.
• It can also provide protection against corrosion, which is why it is found in the roofing materials of industrial buildings.
The problem with asbestos occurs when it is degraded or disturbed, as the fibres that make it up can cause serious illness if inhaled. As well as causing lung cancer, it can also cause the lining of the lungs to swell or severe scarring to lung tissue. The risk is very real and asbestos-related illness can be fatal.
There are now strict regulations controlling the use of asbestos and its removal. Health and safety training on asbestos awareness can help those likely to come across it to understand the regulations and how to comply with them and protect people’s health.