Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that has been a popular building material since the 1950s. It is used as an insulator (to keep in heat and keep out cold), has good fire protection properties and protects against corrosion.
Asbestos is often mixed with another material so it is hard to know if you are working with it or not. If you are in a building built before the year 2000, it's likely that some parts of the building may contain asbestos.
Asbestos is found in many products used in buildings including ceiling tiles, pipe insulation, boilers and sprayed coatings.
Danger from asbestos
Working on or near damaged asbestos-containing materials or breathing in high levels of asbestos fibres, which may be many hundreds of times that of environmental levels, could increase your chances of getting an asbestos-related disease.
When these fibres are inhaled they can cause serious diseases which are responsible for around 4000 deaths a year. There are four main diseases caused by asbestos: mesothelioma (which is always fatal), lung cancer (almost always fatal), asbestosis (not always fatal, but it can be very debilitating) and diffuse pleural thickening (not fatal).
These diseases will not affect you immediately. They often take a long time to develop but, once diagnosed, it is often too late to do anything. There is a need for you to protect yourself now.
Protect yourself from asbestos
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a website with more information about asbestos and the dangers:
Find out more about asbestos on the HSE website (opens in new window)
Cheshire West and Chester has published information about the disposal of asbestos:
Disposal of asbestos (opens in new window)
Cheshire East has published information on the removal of asbestos prior to demolition:
Removal of Asbestos from buildings prior to demolition (new window PDF, 56KB)