The History of Asbestos: Lessons Learned and the Impact Today

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What is asbestos?

The history of asbestos goes back centuries, long before any of us were around; the substance has been used for more than 4,500 years. The ancient world would regard the material as a "magic mineral". The main reason for gaining that specific name is its easy-to-findness, cheapness, and the mineral's fire resistance. But fast forward a few thousand years; it now has many negative connotations; with the mineral now used in many capacities worldwide, we slowly realised the latent negative effects. Asbestos is a carcinogenic substance, and exposure can cause illnesses such as mesothelioma. 

Common types of asbestos

Actinolite Asbestos

Actinolite asbestos is generally a darker-looking substance with needle fibres that can be extremely dangerous to anyone inhaling it when released into the air. This type of asbestos is made of four minerals: calcium, magnesium, iron and silicon. You would commonly use Actinolite in cement, insulation-related materials, paint and sealants.

Amosite Asbestos

Also known as the "brown" asbestos, amosite is considered one of the most hazardous types of asbestos. First mined in South Africa, Amosite is among the most commonly seen today. It is the second most widely used asbestos due to the amount it is used in buildings. Again, it also has very sharp, needle-like fibres that can easily be inhaled and are extremely dangerous should it be inhaled.

Crocidolite Asbestos

Previously, we went through one of the most hazardous types of asbestos, but Crocidolite, also known as the "Blue asbestos", is the most hazardous type. Crocidolite is made up of extremely fine, sharp fibres that are particularly easy to inhale. Crocidolite was very rarely ever used on any commercial products due to the fact it was much less fire resistant compared to other forms of asbestos. This type was commonly used in cement, tiles and some insulation materials.

When Was Asbestos Banned In The UK?

Asbestos has been banned in the UK since 1999. By 2003, it was also banned in many countries like South America, Argentina, and European countries such as Italy and Holland. The European Union shortly followed suit in 2005. 

It was banned for many reasons; growing concerns over the substance started in the 1920s and 1930s. People were suddenly coming down with mystery illnesses when working closely with asbestos. By the 1970s and 1980s, concerns were growing even further, and the pressure was mounting to ban the substance altogether. There are many ways for you to identify asbestos; this helpful post from Asbestos Gone outlines some of the best ways.

Why Was Asbestos Banned?

Throughout the years, many have discovered that asbestos fibres are hazardous to the human body. It was found that if you inhale asbestos fibres for a prolonged amount of time, you would then contract asbestos-related illnesses. Asbestos can give you illnesses such as lung cancer and asbestosis. In some cases, inhaling asbestos can even prove to be deadly; the profession you would seem to inhale the most asbestos fibres would be the building industry; due to asbestosis being a favoured building material for years before its ban in 1999, the material would be very prominent in construction sites.
To conclude, we have revisited the history of asbestos, what it is, and different types of asbestos and have dived into why it was banned and when that was. This information is essential to know the severity of the substance if inhaled. This is why when dealing with anything asbestos-related, you will need a professional to do this; at Asbestos Gone, we have some of the most trustworthy asbestos removal specialists for you to contact. Get in touch now to ease your and your loved ones' worries.