Asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999, but it had been extensively used within construction, engineering, and other industries for many decades since it first gained in popularity in the 1920s. Although no buildings constructed since the turn of the millennium have used asbestos in any way, there are still large numbers of buildings and structures the country over, which have asbestos and asbestos containing materials present within them. In some cases, where a building is used as a school, hospital, or other public building with high numbers of staff and visitors each day, this could become a long-term problem for the health of the nation.
This is why asbestos testing is so important in the UK still. Let’s look at why asbestos is dangerous to begin with. There are a few different types of asbestos-related cancers and illnesses. Mesothelioma is a cancer that is almost exclusively caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibres, and it attacks the lining of the organs. Asbestosis, and other asbestos cancers are equally fatal to the long-term health of those suffering from it. The big problem with many of these asbestos-related illnesses is that they are not easily apparent at first.
You can see this in the numbers of people who are still dying from these types of diseases, decades after first coming into contact with the dangerous material. Quite often there have been cases of engineers, shipbuilders, and other people working in heavy industry in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, becoming ill much later in life, or even partners becoming ill from asbestos fibres that have clung to clothing and been washed and hung to dry in the home.
Many symptoms might not appear for decades, by which time it is too late.
This is why it is so important to test for asbestos in a building that you are responsible for, whether this is a school, a hospital, a commercial property you own, or your home. It only takes one disturbance of asbestos for it to cause problems, and if you are worried that it is present in a building the next step is to conduct a thorough asbestos testing process.
Only licenced contractors can survey, test, and remove asbestos in the UK, so be sure to find an asbestos survey and management team that can come to your building and conduct a testing phase for asbestos that fully covers your worries. In some cases, it might be enough to only test in an un-invasive way, looking at small areas of a building where asbestos might be present, whilst the rest of the building remains active. If there is a worry of extensive presence of asbestos, it could be that a more thorough asbestos survey is required, with the building shut down and the contractors moving in to analyse the asbestos containing materials.Whatever the process, never disturb asbestos or remove it yourself. Only professional asbestos removal teams are licensed to do so, and it will be at your own personal risk if you choose to ignore this.