What is Asbestos ?

Learn about the uses, health hazards, and current regulations surrounding asbestos. Discover how exposure to asbestos can lead to serious diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. Understand the importance of complying with asbestos regulations to protect workers and the general public. Stay informed about the risks associated with asbestos and take necessary precautions to ensure safety and prevent exposure.

What is Asbestos overview

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been widely used in various industries due to its desirable properties such as heat resistance, strength, and durability.

However, it has also been linked to serious health risks, leading to its ban or strict regulations in many countries. In this article, we will provide an overview of asbestos, including its uses, health hazards, and current regulations.

Asbestos has been used in a wide range of products and industries. Its heat resistance and insulation properties made it a popular choice for construction materials such as roofing shingles, insulation boards, and cement products.

It was also commonly used in automotive parts, textiles, and even household items like ironing board covers and hairdryers.

Furthermore, asbestos was extensively used in shipbuilding, as it provided insulation and fireproofing for vessels.

It was commonly found in pipes, boilers, and gaskets. The versatility of asbestos made it an attractive material for many industries, leading to its widespread use in the past.

Understanding Asbestos

Asbestos is a group of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals: chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, anthophyllite, and actinolite. These minerals have been widely used in construction materials, automotive parts, textiles, and other products due to their heat resistance and insulating properties.

Health Hazards of Asbestos Exposure

When asbestos-containing materials are disturbed or damaged, microscopic fibers are released into the air. Inhalation of these fibers is the primary route of exposure, leading to a range of serious health conditions.

1. Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease caused by long-term exposure to asbestos fibers. Over time, these fibers can cause scarring and inflammation in the lungs, leading to breathing difficulties, coughing, and in severe cases, respiratory failure.

2. Lung Cancer

Exposure to asbestos is a known cause of lung cancer. The risk of developing lung cancer is significantly increased in individuals who have been exposed to asbestos, especially if they are also smokers.

3. Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that primarily affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart. It is almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure, and the latency period between exposure and diagnosis can be several decades.

4. Other Cancers

Aside from lung cancer and mesothelioma, asbestos exposure has also been linked to an increased risk of other cancers, including ovarian, laryngeal, and gastrointestinal cancers.

5. Non-Cancerous Health Effects

Exposure to asbestos can also lead to non-cancerous health effects, such as pleural plaques (thickened areas on the lining of the lungs), pleural effusions (abnormal fluid buildup in the lungs), and pleural thickening (scarring of the lung lining).

Recognising the dangers of asbestos, many countries have implemented regulations to limit or ban its use. Proper handling, removal, and disposal of asbestos-containing materials are essential to prevent exposure.

1. Asbestos Testing

If you suspect the presence of asbestos in your home or workplace, it is crucial to have a professional asbestos testing and inspection conducted. This will determine the presence and condition of asbestos-containing materials.

2. Asbestos Removal

If asbestos-containing materials are found, it is recommended to hire a licensed asbestos removal professional to safely remove and dispose of the materials. Improper removal can release more fibers into the air, increasing the risk of exposure.

3. Protective Measures

For individuals working in industries where asbestos exposure is a risk, proper protective measures should be implemented. This includes wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, following safe work practices, and regular health monitoring.

1. Understand the Risks

Asbestos exposure can have serious health implications, including the development of diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. These conditions can take years or even decades to develop, so it is crucial to be aware of the risks and take necessary precautions.

2. Consult a Medical Professional

If you suspect that you have been exposed to asbestos, it is imperative to consult a medical professional who specializes in asbestos-related diseases. They will be able to assess your situation, conduct any necessary tests, and provide you with appropriate advice and treatment options.

3. Gather Information

Try to gather as much information as possible about the circumstances of your asbestos exposure. This may include the location, duration, and nature of the exposure. If you were exposed at work, make a note of the employer, job title, and dates of employment. This information will be valuable when seeking compensation or legal assistance.

4. Notify Relevant Authorities

If the exposure occurred in a workplace, it is important to report it to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the UK. The HSE is responsible for enforcing health and safety regulations in the workplace and can provide guidance on how to manage the situation.

5. Inform Your Doctor

Make sure to inform your doctor about your asbestos exposure, even if you are not experiencing any symptoms at present. This will help them monitor your health over time and take appropriate measures if any asbestos-related diseases develop.

6. Seek Legal Advice

If you believe your exposure to asbestos was due to negligence or inadequate safety measures, you may be entitled to compensation. It is advisable to consult a solicitor who specializes in asbestos-related claims to explore your legal options.

7. Take Precautions

If you are still working in an environment where asbestos is present, take necessary precautions to minimize your exposure. Follow all safety protocols, wear appropriate protective gear, and ensure that your employer is taking the necessary steps to protect your health.

8. Support and Resources

There are various support groups and resources available for individuals who have been exposed to asbestos. These organizations can provide valuable information, advice, and emotional support to help you navigate through the challenges associated with asbestos-related diseases.


If you suspect you have been exposed to asbestos in the UK, it is crucial to take immediate action to protect your health and seek appropriate medical advice. Understanding the risks, consulting a medical professional, gathering information, notifying relevant authorities, and seeking legal advice are important steps to take. By being proactive and taking necessary precautions, you can mitigate the potential health risks associated with asbestos exposure.

Types of Asbestos-Related Diseases

Asbestos exposure can cause several diseases, including:

  • Asbestosis: This chronic lung disease occurs due to the inhalation of asbestos fibers. Symptoms may include shortness of breath, persistent cough, chest pain, and fatigue.
  • Lung Cancer: Asbestos exposure is a known risk factor for lung cancer. Symptoms may include coughing, wheezing, chest pain, weight loss, and difficulty breathing.
  • Mesothelioma: This rare and aggressive cancer affects the lining of the lungs, heart, or abdomen. Symptoms may include chest pain, shortness of breath, cough, fatigue, and unexplained weight loss.

Symptoms of Asbestos-Related Diseases

The symptoms of asbestos-related diseases can vary depending on the specific condition and the stage of the disease. It is important to note that these symptoms may not appear until several years or even decades after the initial asbestos exposure. Some common symptoms include:

  • Respiratory Issues: Persistent cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath are common symptoms of asbestos-related lung diseases.
  • Chest Pain: Asbestos-related diseases can cause chest pain or tightness, which may be accompanied by difficulty breathing.
  • Fatigue: Feeling excessively tired or lacking energy can be a symptom of asbestos-related diseases.
  • Unexplained Weight Loss: Sudden and unintentional weight loss can be a sign of advanced asbestos-related diseases.
  • Coughing up Blood: Coughing up blood or experiencing blood in phlegm may indicate a more advanced stage of asbestos-related lung diseases.

Importance of Early Detection

Early detection of asbestos-related diseases is crucial for effective treatment and improved prognosis. If you have a history of asbestos exposure, it is important to monitor your health and be aware of any potential symptoms. Regular check-ups and screenings can help identify any abnormalities at an early stage, allowing for timely intervention.

If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above or have concerns about asbestos exposure, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional. They can evaluate your medical history, conduct necessary tests, and provide appropriate guidance.

Asbestos in Homes

All you need to know about asbestos in homes in the United Kingdom. Current UK legislation does not make any legal requirements of domestic homeowners.

Asbestos Surveys

We are able to provide any level of survey required, up to the Demolition and Refurbishment survey now required prior to the demolition of any building or structure.

What is a Pre-Demolition Survey

When a building is to be demolished the (non-domestic) client ( usually the property owner) has a duty to provide pre-demolition information to the designer

Refurbishment Survey

A refurbishment survey / demolition survey is needed before any planned refurbishment or demolition work is carried out. This type of survey is used to locate and describe, as far as reasonable practicable

Asbestos Removal

Total Group perform safe and comprehensive asbestos removal work nationwide and have worked on some of the largest asbestos removal projects ever undertaken in the United Kingdom. 

Types of Asbestos

Asbestos has been included in many materials in the last 150 years.  Three common types of asbestos can be found in buildings: Crocidolite (Blue Asbestos), Amosite (Brown Asbestos), Chrysotile (White Asbestos)

Managing Asbestos

The strategy of the HSE is to ensure that those involved in the repair, removal or disturbance of asbestos containing materials (ACMs), such as insulation coatings or insulation boards, are licensed & competent 

What is Asbestos ?

Asbestos was commonly used as a construction material in the UK between the 1950s and 1980s in particular. If your home was built between these years, chances are that you are living with Asbestos

Control Of Asbestos Regulations 2012

Most work with asbestos need to be carried out by a licensed contractor. This includes work in asbestos insulation or asbestos lagging; and work on asbestos insulation board (AIB)

Asbestos In The Workplace

Total Group are a leading civil construction and civil engineering contractors with over 45 years’ expertise in delivering  high-quality, innovative and cost-effective civil engineering projects across a wide variety of sectors. 

Brownfield Land Remediation

We have tackled some of the most complex remediation projects undertaken in the United Kingdom, surpassing industry standards. Our diverse range of experience and expertise sets us apart and we continually deliver to the highest standards

Asbestos Consultancy

The challenge with many old structures is that they may contain asbestos. Over time asbestos poses a health risk and you need to be careful when handling it. Asbestos removal is best left to professionals. 

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