Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that has been a popular building material since the 1950s. It has been widely used as an insulator (to keep in heat and keep out cold), has excellent fire protection properties and protects against corrosion.
Where asbestos is found
Asbestos is found in many products used in buildings, including ceiling tiles, pipe and boiler insulation, floor and ceiling tiles and sprayed coatings such as Artex.
In Slough, asbestos can commonly be found as asbestos cement and used for corrugated roofing sheets, as boiler flue pipes and as water tanks and cisterns. In asbestos cement products the asbestos is bonded into the cement as part of the manufacturing process. Asbestos is also common as a fire insulation addition in board or sheet form for doors in residential and commercial properties, including hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, flats and multi–occupied properties, as well as offices, shops and other commercial buildings.
Asbestos cement products contain white (Chrysotile) asbestos whereas insulation boards and other asbestos materials commonly contain brown (Amosite) and/or blue (Crocidolite) asbestos. It is accepted that the brown and blue forms of asbestos are much more dangerous than the white.
Why asbestos may be a problem
Old, damaged or disturbed asbestos containing materials (ACMs) can release fibres into the air where these can be breathed into the lungs. The fibres may lodge in the lungs and remain there for many years, causing possible damage. Breathing in high levels of asbestos fibres creates a risk of lung diseases, including cancers, asbestosis and mesothelioma. Most asbestos-related health problems do not show up immediately but usually only after many years after initial exposure.
There are still more than 4,000 work-related deaths from asbestos each year in the UK.