There are around 400 naturally occurring fibrous silicates in the world, some of which have proved extremely useful to man; one small group of these is collectively called asbestos.
Early records indicate asbestos was used in the Pharaonic mummification process: its further use is noted - occasionally – throughout the ages…until the mid to late eighteenth century when there was a positive explosion in demand: this was the new age of Shipbuilding, Railways, and Electricity.
Engineers and manufacturers during the industrial revolution – a time of innovation and growth - used asbestos extensively for its high tensile strength and thermal properties: it had, quite literally, a thousand and one uses.
However, this wonder material - so cheap and readily available - is extremely harmful to health, and in many cases causes death. Asbestos although now generally banned in the western world does still exist and may be found in older properties and commercial premises.
Today, many myths surround asbestos; untruths and misunderstanding, both of which instill fear in people: but what are the myths and what are the facts?
Asbestos is easy to recognise, you can tell what it is just by looking at it.
Asbestos could be found in almost half a million different consumer products, engineering, and building materials from the early 1920’s through 1978. Due to this, asbestos is not easy to recognise, and can only be confirmed by laboratory testing. Owners of older, period properties are advised to consider seriously this fact when planning major renovation works. Employers should consider testing in aged premises with regard to the Health and Safety at work act.