What is Asbestos and have I been exposed?
Asbestos means "inextinguishable, unquenchable or inconsumable" and it is a naturally occurring mineral which often had a primary use of thermal insulation,
due to its heat resistant qualities; it's incredible strength; and resistance to
chemical corrosion. Due to its uses many people could and have been exposed to asbestos especially in certain industries.
If you have been exposed to Asbestos during your working career and you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-linked illness such as: asbestosis; mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer then you should investigate whether you can claim compensation for your illness.
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Types of Asbestos
Referred to as the "Magic Mineral" in the late 1800’s and used extensively in the
UK from the 1930's onwards, Asbestos came in a number of forms, such as raw, paste,
sheeting or rope.
Six types exist:
- Chrysolite: (White) - white, soft, curly fibres and accounts
for approximately 95% of the world production of asbestos.
By and large accepted as less carcinogenic than brown or blue
- Amosite: (Brown) - pale brown needle-like fibres and more carcinogenic
- Crocidolite: (Blue) - needle-like fibres and considered by far
the most important and dangerous type for the development of pleural mesothelioma
- Actinolite, Athophylite and Tremolite - rarely used for commercial
purposes in the UK, unlike the extent of Chrysolite, Amosite and Crocidolite
- Vermiculite - is a mica-like mineral and used because of its fire-resistant
and insulation properties in homes - The ore may contain amphibole asbestos fibres.
It is rarely used now but some homes may still have vermiculite-based insulation
and as such may contain asbestos fibres.
The most common places where you could be exposed to this material
- power stations
- swimming/public baths
- boiler rooms
- hot or steam pipe lagging
NB: These are only a few of the most common places where it can still be found.
Exposure - public buildings
There are an increasing number of cases of people suffering the effects of asbestos
exposure due to public buildings eg: hospitals, schools, libraries
Many public buildings still contain this material and we are now seeing a rising
number of nurses, doctors and teachers suffering from asbestos related
illnesses and diseases.
Schools containing this material are particularly dangerous as
children can be very susceptible to effects of these fibres.
Current figures show that Asbestos related illnesses are not just occurring in the
manufacturing, engineering and building industries any more.
What products contain asbestos?
Asbestos was a fire-proofing material (eg sprayed insulation, fire
door insulation) and for asbestos cement/fibrocement products (eg
roof and wall claddings), such as, artexing, electrical switchboards, insulators
and fittings, vinyl floor coverings, asbestos felts and paper-like products, friction
materials (eg brake and clutch linings), paints, sealants and adhesives, gaskets,
textiles (eg woven cloths, blankets), asbestos socks, phone boxes and gas masks.
"At risk" asbestos exposure occupations include:
- construction workers
- demolition workers
- merchant navy
- metal plate workers
- plumbers & gas fitters
- production fitters
- public building workers eg doctors, nurses, teachers, children, librarians etc
- railway industry workers (eg carriage building)
- sheet metal workers
- shipbuilding/dock yard workers
- steel workers
- thermal insulation engineers/laggers (eg pipe and boiler insulation)
- transport/haulage workers
- vehicle body workers (eg brake & clutch linings and spray paint)
- It is a deadly carcinogen. There is no safe dose
- It is a naturally occurring mineral that occurs in different forms including blue,
brown and white asbestos
- For many years the Global Asbestos Industry cast doubt in the minds of the public
and government as to the danger in particular of white asbestos
- The link between inhalation of asbestos dust and lung disease was first noted in
1898, by the 1930s there was a growing body of scientific evidence that reinforced
- The link between inhalation of very small quantities of dust and the fatal cancer
mesothelioma was proven beyond doubt in the early 1960s (no safe dose)
- Employers, including the British Government, knowingly exposed workers to asbestos
dust for much of the 20th century
- The time between exposure to this hazardous substance and first signs of mesothelioma
is typically 30-40 years
- There is evidence that exposure to this substance before the age of 30 is particularly
- A voluntary ban on the import of blue asbestos was accepted by the UK asbestos industry
in 1970 and on brown asbestos in 1980. (At the time blue and brown asbestos accounted
for 5% of asbestos production). White asbestos was finally banned in the UK in 1992
- 1 in 17 carpenters employed in the UK in the 1960s will die of asbestos cancer (Reported by The Health & Safety Executive March 2009)
- There were 1946 mesothelioma related deaths among men in 2010 with the annual number predicted to increase to a peak of about 2100 around the year 2016. (The Health & Safety Executive Statistics 2011/12)
- Over 2 million metric tons of this material continues to be produced each year
- Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Brazil and Canada account for 99% of production
Let us help you
Call our asbestos exposure helpline today on 0808 129 3320 or use our free, no obligation,
online enquiry form to register
for a call back to find out more about compensation
for exposure to this hazardous substance.
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