What is Asbestos?

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, mined extensively and utilised due to its insulating and fire resistant properties throughout buildings both domestic & industrial as far back as the 1800’s. Asbestos does not burn or degenerate, it provides insulation from noise, cold and heat. Asbestos is virtually indestructible – the only way to safely dispose of asbestos once removed is to contain it in secure landfill sites.

Asbestos has commonly been used in the following products:

  • Asbestos Insulation Board (found commonly in attics, and as dividing walls between garages and houses used as firebreaks)
  • Asbestos Thermal Insulation (lagging used on heating pipes from boilers)
  • Asbestos Rope Seals (seals on old range cookers and boilers)
  • Asbestos corrugated sheeting (roofing on houses, warehousing and factories)
  • Asbestos containing vinyl floor tiles as well as the underlying adhesive/bitumen
  • Asbestos toilet seats & cisterns
  • Asbestos containing roof slates

Should asbestos products be in good condition (undamaged) and undisturbed, then there is generally a low health risk. When asbestos is disturbed it releases fibres into the air where they can be inhaled or ingested. If inhaled fibres may pass into the lungs, or, if swallowed, into the digestive tract. Once they are trapped in the body, the fibres can cause serious health problems, such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Asbestaway recognises that every day thousands of people are at risk by working on buildings and dwellings where asbestos is still present. If the building is dated pre 2000, asbestos could be present. If you are aware that asbestos is present in your building or business premises there is a legal requirement to put in place an asbestos management plan to ensure that the asbestos is maintained in a safe state.

For more information, please see the guidelines issued by the Health & Safety Authority. http://www.hsa.ie/eng/your_industry/chemicals/legislation_enforcement/asbestos/