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Why asbestos was used in so many building products

Why asbestos was used in so many building products tips, Construction worker dangerous material exposure

Why Asbestos Was Used In So Many Building Products

29 Jun 2022

With an estimated 5,000 deaths a year in the UK alone, asbestos is the biggest killer in construction and one of the biggest mistakes. It is known as the ‘hidden killer’ for a reason, and as a construction worker, you have an increased risk of asbestos exposure.

Killing an estimated 40 tradesmen a week, and the figure is and has been rising for decades. Due to the nature of asbestos and its heavy use in construction projects, the product can also harm others who come into contact with the material either in their homes or workplaces. This is why you should seek professionals to conduct an asbestos survey to help keep you and everyone else healthy and safe.

The term ‘hidden killer’ has become synonymous with asbestos, thanks in no small part to the HSE campaign. The material is generally hidden in thousands of buildings, and it is in hundreds of building products.

With this being said, you may ask, if it was so dangerous, why was it used to build things with? And why did the construction industry make such a catastrophic mistake?

Why asbestos was used in so many building products

Why asbestos was used in building products

Asbestos was utilised in construction because of how amazing it is as a material. What makes it so unique?

There are many components which make the material excellent for construction:

  • Cheap
  • Strong
  • Heat insulation
  • Sound Insulation
  • Fire Protection
  • Water-Resistant
  • Electricity Resistant
  • Chemical Resistant

Asbestos is a natural material which is found all around the world and has been used for thousands of years and can be found as far back as the Romans and Greeks.

The material became popular in the UK after the industrial revolution and was also commercialised and imported in droves for manufacturing purposes.

Cheap, strong, excellent heat and sound insulation and incredible fire resistance, all combined, make the perfect construction material. This is why it was widely adopted and used to the extent it was in both commercial and domestic buildings all across the UK.

Building products containing asbestos

Asbestos was used in hundreds of commercial products from the 50s to the 70s. Suppliers advertised it as a magical material sought after by property owners and builders for their projects.

Some of the products which contain asbestos are:

  • Roof Tiles
  • Ceiling Tiles
  • Asbestos Cement
  • Insulating Boards
  • Loose Insulation
  • Textured Coatings
  • Sprayed Coatings
  • Fire Blankets
  • Fire Doors
  • Downpipes
  • Pipe Lagging
  • Rainwater Goods
  • Cladding
  • Window Cills
  • Toilet Seats
  • Sink Pads

To name a few.

Asbestos products are in many products, some of which you would never know. Although it has been banned in the UK, it is still prevalent in thousands of buildings. Because of how widely used it was and how ingrained it is in the fabric of the building, it has become hard to know what contains asbestos.

Why asbestos is still dangerous

As the popularity of asbestos peaked in the 50s-70s, public awareness of health concerns grew. Asbestos diseases take decades to develop. As such, the people exposed years prior started getting ill and dying. The UK ended up banning asbestos-containing materials in 1999.

Asbestos, although incredible as a construction material, is not so incredible for human health. The fibres are extraordinarily strong and, as such, are not able to be broken down by the body. They are also extremely sharp and will slice into lung tissue when inhaled.

Although the material has been banned, the number of people dying yearly has continued to increase in the UK. This is because symptoms can take years or even decades to develop.

Diseases caused by asbestos are slow and painful. People dying today more than likely were exposed to the material in the 70s or 80s. Another reason may be that the materials are being disturbed, and people are exposed to them at the time.

Although there is a considerable number of studies and knowledge on the dangers surrounding asbestos and tight regulations, asbestos exposure is not a problem of the past. If you work in construction, you are far more at risk of asbestos-related diseases.

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