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Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Asbestos: The revolutionary material for buildings

Before it was known that asbestos was dangerous, it was hailed as a new wonder material for building and construction industries. The word asbestos means unquenchable: it was known since the time of the ancient Greeks that asbestos was fireproof.

In the 1940s, 50s and 60s asbestos was used in building works all over the world. It was cheap, light, strong and fireproof.

Before the risks of breathing in asbestos dust became widely recognised, asbestos was used in the construction of:
  • schools
  • offices
  • homes
  • factories
  • hospitals and
  • other public buildings.
It was regarded as a very useful product indeed.

There are different forms of asbestos. Asbestos is a general term used for a group of minerals which occur naturally in certain parts of the world, but not in the UK.

The main forms are chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, tremolite, anthrophylite and actinolite. The most widely used commercially are chrysotile, crocidolite and amosite. Almost 100% of the asbestos still being mined and exported today is chrysotile also known as white asbestos.

White asbestos can still be found in a huge range of products from roof tiles to car brake pads, floor and ceiling tiles and pipe insulation. However, those that trade in asbestos and asbestos products continue to maintain that white asbestos is safe. Studies have shown that when inhaled chrysotile fibres can remain imbedded in the lung tissue and eventually will cause an inflammation response which is known to trigger cancer. It is now known that even for chrysotile there is no safe dose. Asbestos is recognised by the World Health Authority as one of the most dangerous cancer causing substances there is.

It was known since the early 1960s that even slight or transient exposure to asbestos - such as might affect a bystander in the vicinity of works involving asbestos - could potentially cause cancer. In spite of this knowledge asbestos and asbestos products continue to be used widely even by those who clearly should have known better such as the Government, Ministry of Defence and Health Authority. Asbestos in all its forms was finally banned in the UK in 2000.

We support a worldwide ban on asbestos and asbestos products. If you think that any of these issues have affected you or your family please call Simpson Millar's Asbestos Compensation team on 0808 129 3320 for friendly legal advice.

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