Top 10 Myths about Asbestos

This blog was written for ESSS and originally published on 2019/04/30. ↗️


Top 10 Myths about Asbestos 

Asbestos was completely banned in the UK back in 1999, but it still exists in many buildings to date. Safe removal and management of this dangerous material is necessary to prevent it becoming airborne, which is when it’s most dangerous. Over the years, many myths about asbestos developed so today, we’re here to clear the air on the top 10 myths. 

Myth #1: Asbestos is safe in small doses

False. Asbestos is never safe. While contained, undisturbed asbestos (like asbestos fibres mixed in cement in your walls, or in a structure no one enters therefore undisturbed) is less likely to be airborne, but no amount of asbestos, disturbed or undisturbed, is ever safe and should always be handled by an experienced asbestos removal specialist. 

Myth #2: Asbestos is only dangerous after long-term exposure

False. It’s wrongly believed that only people who were exposed to asbestos for a long period of time like factory workers can contract mesothelioma or asbestosis. Short term exposure is just as dangerous. However, it is unlikely that after a few minutes of exposure that you’ll immediately become ill. Asbestos related diseases can reveal themselves 30 years after initial exposure, regardless of if it was long or short term, and the impact depends on a person’s physiological response to asbestos. 

Myth #3: Not all types of asbestos are dangerous

False. All six types of asbestos are dangerous. Chrysotile, white asbestos, is known to be the least deadly form of asbestos compared to the others, but exposure is still considered to be extremely dangerous. 

Myth #4: Asbestos only affects men

False. While there may be more men affected by asbestos-related illnesses, it was because men typically worked in industrial settings where asbestos exposure was more common during the 20th century. Both men and women are affected to the dangers of asbestos materials.  

Myth #5: Asbestos is safe as long as you keep it wet

False. While the idea of keeping the affected area damp to reduce the asbestos fibres becoming airborne sounds foolproof, most types of asbestos are hydrophobic (meaning they repel water), and they still get into the air via water and water-based wetting materials.  

Myth #6: Asbestos only affects those in construction industries

False. Asbestos affects everyone and asbestos-related diseases affect a wide scope of careers, however, the highest rate of illness is linked to former construction workers due to the exposure levels they would have faced in their industry.  Shipbuilders, carpenters, plumbers and electricians make up a substantial portion of those that suffer from these fatal diseases. 

Myth #7: Asbestos related diseases are contagious

False. None of the diseases that are asbestos related are contagious. People who lived with construction workers or asbestos miners would have come into close contact with the material as the fibres attach themselves to clothes and family members could have come into contact with asbestos this way. 

Myth #8: There aren’t asbestos alternatives on the market

False. While there is no one product that can act in the full scope asbestos can, industries have found replacements for this deadly material that can hold up to individual tasks just as well. Polyurethane foam spray replaces asbestos insulation, silica is woven into fabric to withstand fire, and thermoset plastic is the automotive industry’s replacement for electrical insulation. 

Myth #9: If you’re wearing a dust mask, asbestos is safe to remove

False. Asbestos fibres can become airborne, and while they can be inhaled, they also settle on clothing, in hair and on exposed skin, which you can then spread throughout your home and expose your family to the deadly material. Always have an experienced asbestos removal specialist handle this dangerous material. 

Myth #10: Asbestos is an old problem which doesn’t affect me

False. While asbestos was completely banned in the UK in 1999, experts believe that over 75% of schools in England contain asbestos, and between 2002 and 2010, 128 British school teachers died from mesothelioma. 

Asbestos is no joke. It’s a deadly material that has life changing effects. Always have an experienced asbestos removal specialist handle this dangerous material and never try to do it yourself, else you risk exposing yourself and your loved ones to this killer. 

If you believe your commercial or private property may have asbestos, you have a responsibility to manage it. ESSS, a UKAS and ISO accredited asbestos consultancy, is equipped to determine the extent of your asbestos situation and develop a plan for the management and/or removal of it. Contact us today at 01268 755 464 or by visiting http://www.esss.co.uk/.

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