Asbestos Origins and Mining
Asbestos is not a product of the modern age; its use traces back thousands of years, with evidence of its use found in ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian civilizations. The name “asbestos” is derived from a Greek word meaning “inextinguishable” or “indestructible,” aptly capturing its remarkable fire-resistant qualities.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous silicate mineral found in rock formations. The process of mining asbestos is similar to other minerals. Large chunks of asbestos-bearing rock are brought to the surface and then crushed. The crushing process releases the tiny asbestos fibres from the rock and segregates them from the other non-asbestos minerals.
Asbestos Types and Properties
Commercial applications primarily use six types of asbestos: chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite. Of these, manufacturers used chrysotile, also known as white asbestos, the most.
The inherent properties that made asbestos a favourite include:
- Fire Resistance: Asbestos doesn’t burn, making it an excellent fireproofing material.
- Durability: These fibres are strong and can add structural strength to various materials.
- Thermal & Electrical Insulation: Asbestos offers superb insulation properties against both heat and electricity.
- Chemical Resistance: ACMS remain stable even when exposed to strong chemicals.
Given its prized properties, asbestos found its way into numerous building materials:
- Roofing materials, tiles, soffits and fascias: often made from asbestos-containing cement.
- Insulation material for attics, walls, and basements, especially in houses built between 1930 and 1950, frequently contained asbestos.
- Vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring could contain asbestos.
- Textured paint and patching compounds: used on wall and ceiling joints could be contaminated
- Walls and floors around wood-burning stoves: often protected using asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets.
- Cement Enhancements: For better binding, asbestos was incorporated into cement products, like pipes and sheets.
- Drywall & Joint Compound: Drywall installations often use joint compounds infused with asbestos to achieve better durability.
- Textured Finishes: Textured paints and coatings containing asbestos were widespread in residential and commercial premises.
- Fireproofing Solutions: Commercial edifices, notably schools and hospitals, benefitted from asbestos-integrated fireproofing materials.
While this list isn’t exhaustive, if your property dates back to this era, it’s vital to approach it with caution. If in doubt, consult a professional to assess and guide on the potential presence of ACMs
Rising Concerns and Regulations
Asbestos, celebrated for its numerous advantages, also contains sharp, microscopic fibres which, when breathed in, can compromise our health. Inhaling these minuscule fibres might cause them to embed permanently in our lungs, leading to inflammation, scarring, and, subsequently, more grave health complications.
However, by the time the 1980s arrived, the global community had become acutely aware of the perils linked to asbestos. As a result, a multitude of countries acted decisively, enacting stringent regulations. Nowadays, several nations have outright banned its application in construction materials. Nevertheless, remnants from asbestos’s prime era still linger, emphasizing the imperative for homeowners, renovators, and professionals to tread with utmost caution when dealing with these materials.
While asbestos undeniably played a foundational role in sculpting modern infrastructure, its adverse health implications demand attention. Therefore, if you find yourself residing or working in an older edifice, it’s prudent to ascertain the presence of asbestos prior to embarking on any renovation or restoration projects. At Flettons Surveyors, our expertise lies in scrutinizing such edifices, offering our clientele comprehensive analyses that prioritize their welfare and grant them peace of mind.
With Flettons, safeguarding your property investments becomes hassle-free. Our seasoned team ensures your prospective home is examined thoroughly so future surprises are off the table. Keen on a building survey report that prioritizes your safety? Secure an instant quote via our online calculator or reach out to us directly at 0203 691 0451. Your home’s health is just a call away!