The discovery of asbestos in a building is never a good thing. Not only is it a massive health risk, but it also means a building cannot be used until the asbestos has been completely removed.
Asbestos was used as a construction material for decades prior to the discovery how dangerous it can be, meaning there are many buildings and structures that still contain it. Asbestos testing can be performed on any building to establish whether there is any asbestos as well as determining the extent the problem should it be discovered.
Asbestos testing is therefore very important for any business or private property concerned about the presence of asbestos.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a type of fibre that was used predominately in construction and other manufacturing industries. Due to being highly durable and fire resistant, not to mention a great insulator, asbestos was utilised in a number commercial and industrial applications.
This ranged from floor and ceiling materials to various textiles and automotive parts, with the material being used for several decades before it anyone realised there was any apparent health risks.
In fact, it wasn’t until as recently as the 1970s when asbestos restrictions were enforced due to increasing evidence that showed the true dangers of asbestos exposure for anyone working with or in proximity of the material.
The Risks of Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos is officially classified as a human carcinogen, so it’s safe to say it comes with inherent health risks for any individual that is exposed to it.
The reason that asbestos is so dangerous to humans is that the material consists of microscopic fibres. Due to their microscopic size, these fibres are easily inhaled, which in turn causes massive damage to the respiratory system.
Because of this, the asbestos fibres attach to the lining of the lungs and the inner cavity of the respiratory system. Once lodged in the soft tissue here, they are almost impossible to remove, and the body struggles to naturally breakdown the fibres.
Due to being used in various commercial products and industrial applications, asbestos exposure became widespread in many different occupations, such as those working in shipbuilding, manufacturing, and construction.
Health Issues Caused by Asbestos Exposure
As asbestos fibres effect the respiratory system, the main health problems from exposure are related to the lungs.
Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer
While lung cancer is predominately caused by smoking, asbestos exposure is known to greatly exacerbate and even accelerate the risk of developing such a disease. Also, the length of time exposed and the level of asbestos effects the chances of developing lung cancer, and it can take up to 30 years for the disease to develop as there are few early signs of symptoms.
Not only was the worker exposed to asbestos at risk from this disease, but also anyone living with them. This is because the microscopic fibres often attached to clothing and were easily transported into their home.
Mesothelioma is a form cancer that can also be caused from asbestos exposure, and it is perhaps the deadliest disease associated with asbestos. The aggressive form of cancer has a very low survival rate, meaning anyone diagnosed will likely die from mesothelioma.
It’s not unlike lung cancer, with this form of cancer effecting the mesothelial cells found on the lungs, abdomen, and heart cavities’. Once diagnosed, life expectancy tends to be only a few months, although those that faced lower levels of exposure may have a longer survival period.
Unlike lung cancer, mesothelioma doesn’t develop faster in smokers. It’s also believed that early discovery of the disease could increase survival rates
Asbestosis is notably different from other asbestos-related illnesses in that it is very rarely fatal. This doesn’t make it any more appealing however, as the disease results in severe scarring on the tissue of lungs that will cause various long-term health problems.
A long-term respiratory illness, asbestosis leads to progressively shorter breaths and other breathing problems. Additionally, in some cases it has been documented as a precursor to the fatal mesothelioma.
Asbestos Testing Options
Thankfully there are many services available should you encounter or have concerns about asbestos in your home or business. In fact, an asbestos survey will be necessary to ensure compliance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
Removing asbestos is imperative for the safety of everyone involved, and to determine whether there is any need for removal you will want to conduct a form of asbestos testing. There’s various asbestos testing options available, so you can select the option that suits your personal situation.
Site visits will involve a professionally trained asbestos tester visiting the site you want tested. The individual visiting the site takes a selection of materials to be tested and analysed before reporting the results and offering expert advice
Sample kits are another popular asbestos testing option, and a more cost-effective one at that. Kits are available for very little and will take you through the testing process yourself. Each kit will come with necessary safety precautions.
You simply add a sample material to the kit, which offers step-by-step instructions, return it to the testing company who then provide results and any necessary certification (if required).
Should you already know how to take an asbestos sample for testing purposes, most companies will allow you to send it for testing.
Asbestos surveys are a form of testing that is mainly used for those that require legal certification that a property is asbestos free. Surveys are typically more in-depth and usually reserved for building management, pre-refurbishment and demolition purposes.