Asbestos is resistant to heat and fire – hence that is why it was used as an ideal fire-proofing and insulation material.
Asbestos fibre is a natural occuring mineral rock (see photo) which was mined and crushed – then the asbestos fibres were bound together to be used as fire-retardent and insulation materials. I.e. Fibres can be mixed with cement or woven into fabric or sheet boarding.
If asbestos materials are left in buidings and the building is burned down – The other materials which are used to bind the material together will perish but the asbestos fibres will not. They will be dispersed into the air where they cah be easily inlaled by anyone within close proximity. The asbestos fibres can be suspended in the air for several hours even days – eventually landing on hair and clothing.
Inhaling Asbestos fibres can lead to the malignant lung-cancer Mesothelioma.
Inhalation of fibres into lower parts of the lung and can lay dormant for approx 10-30 years, and can even work their way into the lining of the lung (pleura). Asbestos fibres can be very minute and can can only be seen under a microscope. If the fibres are not rejected through the body’s natural defense mechanisms – such as coughing or ingestion – they can cause inflamation and scarring. They can also disrupt ‘normal cell’ growth – hence leading to the deadly asbestos-related disease mesothelioma.
Do not attempt to burn or remove asbestos from a property
If you are a company and you are aware that your building contains asbestos and you try and dispose of it yourself – you are breaking the law. All companies should follow the guidelines set out by the HPA (Health Protection Agency). For asbestos in domestic homes – You should ring your local council offices and they will provide you with contact details of an Asbestos Abatement Company (asbestos removal). If the house you live in belongs to the council or a private landlord – then it is their sole responsibility to have the asbestos removed safely.