What is asbestos and when was it banned in the UK? – The Sun

What is asbestos and when was it banned in the UK? – The Sun

May 24, 2022

INHALING asbestos can cause damage to your lungs, leaving you with conditions linked to the fibres.

Many buildings built in the 1990s were constructed with asbestos before the cancerous dangers were revealed.

What is asbestos and what is it made of?

Asbestos is a mineral substance that can be easily manipulated.

It is made from naturally occurring fibres.

The minerals are resistant to fire, heat and electricity, and can even absorb sound.

This is why the material began to be used in housing construction for insulation.

It was also used in old vehicles and pipe insulation.

Due to the mineral naturally occurring it can be found in trace amounts in makeup or other products.



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It would be sprayed into ceilings and walls before it was banned.

What does asbestos look like?

In its natural form asbestos looks like any other mineral, full of fibres.

Due to being sprayed into walls, it has a fluffy texture when found in buildings.

It is white in colour and has the appearance of candyfloss or thick spiderwebs.

Asbestos panelling can be removed from housing and replaced with modern insulation.

How many types of asbestos are there?

There are six kinds of asbestos that can be found, most were used for insulation.

Chrysotile, white asbestos, is the most common type of fibre found in housing.



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Less used were amosite (brown) and crocidolite (blue) asbestos, although these fibres can be found as pipe insulation or in cement sheets.

Anthophyllite (grey/green) was used in even smaller amounts and is mainly found as a containment.

Not used commercially but still found as a contaminant are tremolite and actinolite, which can be green, blue, brown or white.

Talc was contaminated by these types of asbestos as the minerals can be found near each other in the ground.

When was asbestos banned in the UK?

The dangers of asbestos were spotted early on, with the government banning blue and brown asbestos in 1985.

It took another 15 years for white asbestos to be banned too as it can take as long as 15 years for symptoms to show up.

In 1999, the government banned all use of asbestos because of the health risks.

People can be exposed to asbestos by inhaling fibres in the air or swallowing the fibres.

It can cause mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the mesothelial tissue in the chest.

There is no cure for this aggressive form of cancer.

After inhaling the fibres, they work their way into the lung and irritate the organ's pleura lining.

The fibres may cause mutations that provoke the growth of cancer, while other fibres may be coughed up and swallowed.

Fibres can become stuck in the lung tissue, leading to lung cancer or asbestosis – a condition where there is scarring on the lungs.



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This condition develops as fibres damage the lungs over time.

Symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, extreme tiredness and a persistent cough.

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