Fly Tippers stop Dumping Asbestos Waste!

Councils, the length and breadth of Britain, expend hundreds of thousands of pounds clearing up after fly tippers. Dumping asbestos waste is particularly odious because it’s a health hazard to everyone who goes near it. And it’s expensive to remove.

The price you can pay for fly tipping

It’s clear that people fly tip because they don’t want to pay the cost of non-domestic waste disposal. If caught, fly tipping attracts a fine of up to £50,000 or imprisonment for a year via a Magistrates Court. Or five years in jail and an unlimited fine via the Crown Court. In addition, by breathing in asbestos fibres when removing the material, it could cost you your life, decades after the event.  Passers-by the site where asbestos has been dumped may also inhale the fibres and could ultimately die. So all in all it’s not a particularly cheap option is it?

We have to assume that those who fly tip are equally as careless when removing asbestos containing materials.  Undisturbed and in good condition, asbestos products such as old floor tiles, insulation boards and roofing aren’t particularly hazardous. However, when broken they become extremely dangerous.  The amount of broken up asbestos found by councils year on year is staggering. Thanet District Council spent more than £100,000 last year in dealing with waste that had been fly tipped.

If you are even remotely considering dumping asbestos waste and/or other non-domestic waste in places that you shouldn’t – DON’T!  It isn’t worth getting a criminal record, being fined more than you could possibly ever afford and contracting an asbestos related disease.  It is grossly irresponsible to endanger the health of others too.

How to deal with asbestos in the home

A property in the UK, built before 1999 is likely to contain asbestos somewhere.  The material was widely used in construction because of its heat resistant and insulation properties.  Expect to find it in textured coated ceilings and walls, in or around fireplaces, wall panels, insulation boards and in linoleum or floor tiles.  Tanks, boilers and old pipes may also be lagged with it.

You can call in a surveyor or buy an asbestos self-testing kit which contains everything you require to collect samples.  Check out the Asbestos Sampling video below which shows how easy it is to do.  If the results come back negative, great but dispose of the waste properly! Positive results will entail contacting a professional asbestos waste removal operative.  In this way, the toxic material can be removed and disposed of safely.

However, if some of the asbestos products are intact and in good condition (such as floor tiles) it’s cheaper to cover over them.

More information about asbestos waste

You can find more information by clicking on Where to find Asbestos in the Home or call us for some free advice. We have a database of qualified, asbestos waste removal contractors and may be able to help you find one in your area. Do the responsible thing for your own health and that of others by purchasing an asbestos self-testing kit. The consequences of fly tipping don’t bear thinking about!

Asbestos in Classrooms is Killing Teachers and Pupils

Geoffrey Lee dedicated most of his life to teaching. Now at 72 he is dying from mesothelioma, a cancer he developed from exposure to asbestos in classrooms.

The type of asbestos he was exposed to is blue crocidolite. The material was extensively used in construction before 1985 when it was banned in the UK. It is also the worst type of asbestos to come into contact with because it is friable and easily broken.

For a decade Mr Lee breathed in the lethal fibres that emanated from the plasterboard in the classrooms, at the Newport College where he worked. He remembers dust being present but being told that it wasn’t hazardous to health. It was only in the 1980s that he learned about the dangers of asbestos. His concern is that other teachers and of course pupils who attended the Further Education College in Nash Road will also have suffered the same exposure. Read the full story here

Artwork display boards

Gina Lees, whose career spanned 30 years in teaching, died aged 51 in 2000 from mesothelioma.  Her husband Chris, not satisfied with what he was told officially about her death, started to research.  He now believes that her death could have been prevented had she not been exposed to asbestos in classrooms.

Artwork display boards and insulation boards contained asbestos prior to 1999. Remember how proud we were as pupils when our teacher pinned our pictures up in class? That act alone, when using drawing pins, released lethal fibres into the air, 6,000 per pin to be precise! Chris Lees founded Asbestos in Schools Group when he found so many teachers had suffered a premature death due to asbestos exposure.  According to Health & Safety Executive the current figure is 19 deaths per annum.  You can read the full information about Chris’s efforts to spread awareness here.

The ongoing problem of asbestos in schools

From 1945 to the early 1980s there was a boom in the construction of schools.  The main types of this natural mineral contained in construction materials were blue asbestos (crocidolite) and brown asbestos (amosite).  Both types are considered to be extremely hazardous to health.  Amosite carries a higher risk for causing mesothelioma.

Whilst left undisturbed asbestos containing materials don’t pose a threat.  However, in the normal course of school activities the potential for disturbing it is higher. Children carving their names into classroom walls that have been covered with asbestos board it may result in disease many years later.  Teachers pinning up work and pictures carries the same risk.

Testing for asbestos in classrooms

The HSE acknowledges that buildings constructed before the year 2000 are likely to contain asbestos containing materials. This includes residential, commercial and industrial properties as well as hospitals and schools.

If you are a teacher working in an environment you believe may contain asbestos fibres, ask the school to test for it.  If a private school, asbestos self testing kits are available at minimal cost to the budget. In state schools pressure the council to test. Asbestos in classrooms is killing people who have been exposed to it.

Cover-up that Needlessly Exposed Thousands to Asbestos Health Hazards

Just as blood banks continued to sell infected blood in the USA years after knowing about AIDS, the asbestos industry knew about asbestos health hazards well before the public were informed.

Within the European Union asbestos is banned but continues to kill around 5,000 victims per year in Great Britain alone. People may not be aware that they have an asbestos related disease for at least 20 years after being exposed to it.

PR agencies and politicians helped hide a huge scandal

A 2008 report exposed how the asbestos industry covered up facts it was aware of for decades, ensuring that deaths would ensue for many years to come. The report written by journalist, Ed Howker reveals a huge scandal involving one of the biggest asbestos manufacturing organisations in the world; the erstwhile T&N (Turner and Newall). Based in Rochdale this company used everything at its disposal to conceal the truth about the dangers of asbestos. Public relations agencies and politicians helped to hide the fact that any amount of asbestos fibre in the workplace was hazardous to health, no matter how small. The company had known this from 1961, if not earlier.

From reading through archived documents in the Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, the reporter was able to ascertain that thousands of fatalities could have been prevented if only people had known. His report is a damning indictment of an industry that placed profit before human lives.

T & N projected an image of benefactors, providing much needed work and contributing to the community in many ways.  However, behind this façade lay a tissue of lies. In the late 1890s government appointed factory inspectors warned them about asbestos health hazards and the effect on their employees. Yet no mention of asbestos related diseases can be found in their records prior to the 1930s.

Factory inspectors and scientific evidence

In the late 1940s the prevalence of lung cancer among people working with asbestos was highlighted by factory inspectors in the National Factory Inspector’s Report (1947).  8 years later scientist Richard Doll conducted research concluding that there was a link between asbestos and lung cancer. Doll later went on to establish the link between smoking and lung cancer. Doll’s research into asbestos was commissioned by T & N. When the result of it became known to the company they wouldn’t permit the scientist to publish his paper. Instead they got their own scientist (Dr John Knox) to discredit Doll’s report. Irrespective of this it was clearly a wakeup call since Knox implemented routine X rays for workers.  If they were found to have developed disease, they were reassigned to areas of work with less dust.  They were not given a reason for the move.

The white powder responsible for asbestos health hazards

In a blissful state of ignorance locals who lived in Spodden Valley joked about the “frost” they had throughout the entire year.  Fruit and trees were covered in asbestos containing powder that escaped through the extractor fan vents from the T & N manufacturing site located in the valley.

For every two houses situated in roads close to the factory, one lost a member of the family during the 1980s from specific asbestos health hazards. The instance of Mesothelioma (a cancer caused by asbestos) was astronomically high.

In essence those who worked in the factory and lived near to it were needlessly put at risk to asbestos health hazards long after T & N was aware of the danger.

Compensation claims were made by victims and the families of the deceased. However, the cases were complicated in terms of how insurers perceived them. To read the full report on this dreadful tragedy click on “The Lies that Killed”

Are there asbestos health hazards in your home?

You may wonder why we have related this depressing tale of woe. Perhaps you believe a toxic material that has been banned in the UK since 1999 negates any asbestos health hazards.  The reality is that deaths are occurring now and will continue to do so for many years to come.  Mesothelioma is usually diagnosed some 20 to 50 years after a person has been exposed to it. In residential and commercial property, constructed before the ban, asbestos can invariably be found.

Asbestos Sampling provides an asbestos self-testing kit that is affordable. You can safely take samples of suspected asbestos containing materials and send them back to our laboratory. Our kit will make sure that you and your family know if there is danger to your health, and what you can do about it.  For free advice and more information contact us today.

Can Talcum Powder cause Asbestos Related Diseases?

Most people who buy talcum powder don’t associate it with asbestos related diseases. Usually we only remember ads with smiling mothers and babies.

Years ago virtually every household had some talcum powder, especially where there were babies or elderly women. Traditionally talc was used to keep a baby’s bottom or our own skin dry. It left a pleasant, sometimes perfumed odour on our bodies and made us feel fresh after getting out of a bath.  Sometimes people put it in their shoes to help with smelly feet.

However, several studies conducted over many years have highlighted a higher risk for women. Those using talcum powder for intimate personal hygiene have up to 30% more risk of developing certain types of ovarian cancer.  Other research indicates that inhalation of talcum powder may result in mesothelioma.

There has been some criticism of testing methods used on talcum powder and other potential asbestos containing products.  It has been suggested that testing should be more sensitive in order to identify asbestos contamination.

So should we stop using the powder? Here is some information that might help you decide:

What is talcum powder?

Talcum powder is produced when talc rocks are crushed, dried and milled. These rocks contain natural minerals including silicon and magnesium.  For many years talc contained asbestos and has now been linked to asbestos related diseases including cancer.

The talc we use today shouldn’t be contaminated but asbestos testing may not pick up minuscule fibres.

Application of talc

It’s better not to use talcum powder on intimate areas since when it has absorbed moisture it can travel.  Its journey through the vagina can lead it to the womb (uterus) through the fallopian tubes and then into the ovaries.

Shaking talc over your body makes it airborne and you could easily inhale a fair amount of it.  Overall if you use a dry towel and dry yourself thoroughly, there is no need to use talc.

Legal action for asbestos related diseases

Those who worked in talc mines and in the production of talcum powder were largely unaware of the dangers.  In the USA mesothelioma deaths have been exceptionally high where talc mining took place.

There are several high profile legal actions in America, including thousands of claims against Johnson and Johnson, renowned for its baby powder.  In a recent case the company was order to pay a total of 417 million dollars in compensatory and punitive damages to one plaintiff who suffered ovarian cancer.

Legal redress is available to anyone who has been exposed to this dangerous mineral and to the families of those whose relatives have died from asbestos related diseases.  Naturally you should seek legal advice from specialist lawyers for your specific case.

Asbestos Sampling

For more information read our article about asbestos products lurking in your kitchen and visit our blog regularly for latest news and advice.

If you believe your home contains asbestos and want to know for sure, consider buying an asbestos testing kit. You and your family deserve a safe and healthy environment in which to live.

Top 5 Occupations for High Risk Asbestos Exposure

Before asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999, many people worked in environments where asbestos exposure was incredibly high.

It can take many years to find out that having breathed in the lethal asbestos fibres you are suffering from a disease related to them.

Here are the top 5 occupations that were infamous for asbestos exposure and have led to many deaths in recent years.

Asbestos Manufacturer

Anyone who worked in factories that produced asbestos goods was at risk. Companies such as J. W. Roberts in Armley, Leeds manufactured insulation mattresses containing the hazardous minerals which were used in ship and train building. They also made linings for boilers.  The factory closed in 1958 but it left behind a carcinogenic legacy not only for workers but also for many in the surrounding area.  Armley is considered to be the deadliest area in Great Britain.  Watch out for our blog post on the full history of asbestos manufacture in Armley later this month.

Shipbuilder

Another occupation those decades later killed many working in this trade.  Those involved in the construction, renovation and repair of ships worked in environments that exposed them to huge levels of asbestos.  Testament to this fact is that the areas in the UK where ships were built coincide with higher deaths caused by asbestos related diseases.

Train Builder

Because of its insulation properties asbestos was the material of choice for insulating pipes in trains and often as a fire inhibitor spray on the framework of them. Since the dangers of the lethal minerals were not known, train builders were not provided with health and safety equipment. Spraying without adequate respiratory equipment or suitable masks caused massive inhalation of asbestos fibres.

Construction worker

Whether a carpenter, electrician, plasterer or other tradesperson working in construction; most were exposed to asbestos in one way or another.  Artex was a trendy and cheap plaster finish and it contained asbestos, as did insulation boards, rainwater goods and corrugated roofing. Many homeowners, even today, don’t appreciate that their properties are likely to have some asbestos if built before 2000.

Heating Engineer

We include plumbers with heating engineers since pipes had to be laid and tanks lagged. A mixture of water and asbestos powder was used by them to insulate pipes and lag tanks.  During the mixing and application of the paste asbestos fibres became airborne. Many in this trade have paid with their lives.

Asbestos exposure

You might imagine that asbestos exposure is a thing of the past since the material is now banned.  However, nothing could be further from the truth.  Anyone whose job it is to repair or replace products that are over 17 years old takes a risk if the product is disturbed or damaged.

Before attempting any job like this, take samples of the material first.  Asbestos testing kits are inexpensive and contain everything required to collect samples safely. Results come back within 24 to 48 hours. It just isn’t worth causing permanent damage to your health.

Are you concerned about Grenfell Tower Asbestos Dangers?

Earlier in the year it was confirmed by health officials that all the flats in Grenfell Tower contained a considerable amount of asbestos.  Do you live near to the site? Are you concerned about how Grenfell Tower asbestos may affect you?

Specifically all flats were constructed with airing cupboards that were panelled with asbestos board. Many, if not all, had artex ceilings. Artex was a highly popular finish at the time the block of flats was built (1974) and contains asbestos.  There seems to be little information available as to how many of the 120 flats had been refurbished to eliminate asbestos.

The tower block caught fire on the 14 June 2017 and was completely destroyed. It is more than likely that potentially lethal asbestos fibres could have settled on hundreds of properties in the area carried by smoke and ash in the air.

Asbestos dangers with airborne fibres are very real

PHE (Public Health England) acknowledge that the smoke could have dispersed what they refer to as “small amounts of asbestos fibres”. What we find somewhat astonishing is that they have compared the general danger of toxicity in smoke with that containing asbestos, as posing an “additional minimal health risk”!

It is true that long term exposure puts people in greater danger of developing asbestos related diseases. However, just one fibre adhering to your lungs is also potentially dangerous. If you are having difficulty breathing, consult your doctor.

Irrespective of the varying reports that have come out since the disaster, you have nothing to lose by testing your home for asbestos.  If any of your windows were open at the time you can self-test with our asbestos testing kit to put your mind at rest.

Test for asbestos before embarking on DIY

If your home was built before the year 2000 the possibility of it containing asbestos is high. A testing kit for asbestos can be despatched within 24 hours. It contains everything you need to safely collect samples.  You then send the samples back to our laboratory and will receive the test results within 24/48 hours of receipt.

Asbestos in the home is safe until it is disturbed or damaged.  Simply drilling a hole in a wall, removing lagging from a water tank or replacing insulation boards can release the lethal fibres into the air.  It really isn’t worth taking the risk with your health and that of your family.

Raise your asbestos awareness

If you believe your home may have been affected by the Grenfell Tower fall out contact us. For more information about asbestos testing kits, asbestos removal or asbestos dangers call our friendly team who will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

 

 

Builders warned about Asbestos Insulation Boards removal by HSE

Building contractors who are not licensed to remove AIB (asbestos insulation boards) can expect to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

The HSE (Health & Safety Executive) will not tolerate asbestos being removed unsafely.  This was highlighted in the recent case of a Wigan building contractor heard in Manchester Magistrates Court.

Breach of Asbestos Removal Regulations

Convicted of breaching Health & Safety regulations, related to removing insulation boards containing asbestos, Anthony McGrath from Winstanley Construction, Wigan was ordered to pay fines totalling £475.  In addition, a compensation order of £7,500 was awarded to the homeowners who had employed him.

McGrath entered a guilty plea for breaching the following regulations:

  • Regulation 10 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012
  • Regulation 8 (1) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012

The regulations related to removal of asbestos are strict. Only those who are licensed and fully trained, with the correct equipment, are permitted to carry out this work.  Not surprising, considering that exposure to asbestos fibres is extremely hazardous to health.

Mesothelioma cancer is just one of many asbestos related diseases that people may suffer from following exposure.  Unfortunately for these homeowners, Winstanley Construction didn’t engage the services of suitably qualified and licensed personnel for asbestos removal from their house.

Contractor stated asbestos insulation boards were safe

McGrath was reported by the homeowners during the course of their garage being converted at Bassett Grove, Wigan. Having removed the dangerous insulation boards, the contractor dumped the broken up pieces in the garden.  When asked what the debris was, McGrath said the boards contained asbestos intimated there was nothing to worry about.  He added that they would be taken off site shortly.

Naturally concerned, the homeowner discussed the matter with the local council. She then contacted a licensed asbestos removal specialist who verified that the boards were indeed AIB and should not have been removed outside of a controlled environment.

Huge decontamination cost

As a result of the unsafe removal, the homeowners had to vacate the property for over a week.  The cost of cleaning the contaminated areas of the home amounted to more than £12,000.

After the case, Inspector David Norton from the Health and Safety Executive

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector David Norton said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.”

He warned that businesses and individuals who didn’t comply with regulations would be prosecuted without hesitation.

Asbestos Sampling

Suspect there are asbestos insulation boards in your home? You can purchase and affordable asbestos testing kit from Asbestos Sampling.  If the samples you take are positively tested by our laboratory you must ensure that you use a fully licensed contractor to remove and dispose of them.  If you would like help finding a local contractor, contact us and we will consult our database. Be aware DIY is not an option for this type of job.