Asbestos is a mineral which is made up of minute fibres measuring less than 3 microns long by 1 micron thick. Put into context, a human hair is between 60 and 140 microns thick!
“The Magic Mineral”
It is estimated that asbestos has been used in varying concentrations in as many as 3000 separate products worldwide due to its incredible properties:
- Strength (e.g. building materials)
- Incombustibility (e.g. fire proofing)
- Acid/alkali resistance (e.g. chemical plants)
- Sound absorbency (e.g. sound proofing)
- Heat/fire resistance (e.g. gaskets/fire doors)
- Resistance to electrical current (e.g. flash pads)
- If inhaled, asbestos fibres are small enough to penetrate deep into the air sacs within the lungs where they can not be expelled by coughing or sneezing
- Due to the fibres’ chemical resistance and durability, the body’s natural defences (macrophages) can not deal with them.
- Over a period of between 15 and 60 years, long term aggravation of the lung tissues may result.
- The diseases associated with asbestos fibre inhalation are:
- Pleural plaques
- Lung cancer
THERE IS NO CURE FOR ASBESTOS RELATED DISEASES
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has identified asbestos fibre exposure as the single greatest cause of occupational related disease in the UK.
In the UK, there are currently over 4,000 deaths per annum attributed to asbestos related disease. That is 11 people per day.
The death rate is estimated to increase to over 10,000 per annum