The Danger of Asbestos Exposure in the Home

Asbestos exposure in the home can lead to a myriad of asbestos related diseases that you are unlikely to be aware of until several years down the line.

Asbestos has been banned in the UK since 1999 but you can almost guarantee that any home constructed before this contains some asbestos.

Where asbestos might be hiding in your home

There are numerous places you can find this material ranging from floor tiles and linoleum to Artex ceilings and insulation boards.  Some types of wall panelling may be asbestos insulation board. Economic asbestos roofing was often used on outbuildings and extensions.

The interior of your fireplace and its surround might contain asbestos and your boiler and pipes might be lagged with it.

As daunting as this may sound, if asbestos products in the construction of your home are in good condition you don’t need to worry.  For example, if the floor tiles or linoleum are not worn, cracked or broken asbestos exposure isn’t an issue.  However, if they are you could be breathing in airborne fibres without realising it. Often you’ll be able to cover over old floor tiles with new and the same applies to ceilings. Alternatively you can, and in some cases must, remove asbestos from your home.

To avoid asbestos exposure in the home the first step, when you suspect you have a problem, is to test the area.  You can either organise a survey or purchase an asbestos self-testing kit.  The latter is the cheaper of the two options. Our testing kits contain all the equipment you need to take samples safely.  Results come back within 24/48 hours. If the test comes back positive, you can then seek advice from professionals as to what to do about it.  If the only option is to remove it, you’ll need an asbestos abatement operative who is licensed to remove and dispose of the product.

Asbestos exposure in the home

Quite apart from the danger of damaged construction materials, there are other ways you can be exposed. Fly tipping is a growing problem and kids tend to be drawn to items that are carelessly discarded.  In the past year there have been numerous reports of asbestos being dumped by the side of the road, on waste land and wooded areas.  Sometimes idiots break up asbestos roofing panels and insulation boards before dumping them.  This means that children who find it fun to jump up and down on the debris will inhale lethal fibres. In the same way, derelict properties are a hazard for kids, no matter how exciting they may be for a den!

When they return home fibres will be clinging to their clothes.  Many women whose husbands worked with asbestos are now dying from mesothelioma (asbestos cancer) because they washed their work clothes. Teach your children about the danger of asbestos exposure!

The old ironing board that has been in the family for years possibly contains asbestos.  If it is worn, get rid of it! Retro items are fashionable at the moment but old fires and retro hairdryers may also contain asbestos.  Give them a miss!

Asbestos self testing kit

At Asbestos Sampling it is our contention and that of many scientists that one asbestos fibre is dangerous. Asbestos exposure to hundreds of fibres is a death sentence for many. We all have to die of something but the slow ‘incubation’ of mesothelioma and other related diseases is something you can prevent.  If you would like more information about our asbestos self testing kits call us.  We’ll be happy to discuss any concerns you may have.

Handling, Working with and Testing Asbestos Artex

Around 25 years ago textured Artex ceilings were the type of interior design feature that Hyacinth Bucket would have bragged to her neighbours about.  However, today most of us can’t wait to get rid of it.  So what’s the easiest way of handling, working with and testing asbestos Artex?

What is Artex?

Artex is a water-based coating which was commonly applied for decorative purposes and mostly on ceilings. Painter, decorators and plasterers developed innovative methods of applying it. They were also highly imaginative in their designs. Swirls, circles even miniature glacier peaks would miraculously appear from their specialist brushes, combs and rollers. It was an extremely popular finish during the 50s right through to the 70s.  Sadly the Artex used during those periods often contained asbestos. If you are considering doing anything with ceilings from that time you must think seriously about testing asbestos Artex.

Why testing asbestos Artex is essential?

If you have just purchased an older property, Artex ceilings may contain asbestos.  You have absolutely no way of knowing unless you test.  You may feel like sanding them down or scraping the textured coating off but you must test it first.  If you disturb it in any way, and it does contain asbestos, you will release deadly fibres into the air. Unless you have a specially designed, filtered mask you may breathe in the fibres. An ordinary DIY painter’s mask or a cloth wrapped around your face isn’t going to stop the fine fibres penetrating.  When fibres get into the respiratory system there’s a good chance that you’ll develop Mesothelioma. But you probably won’t know about this silent killer for at least 20 years, by which time it will be too late.

Mesothelioma, the cancer related to asbestos exposure, mimics many conditions. Unless your doctor knows you have been exposed to asbestos it’s easy to misdiagnose. You may be short of breath in which case your GP might think you have asthma. Maybe you have pain in your lower back or on one side of your chest. Coughing, excessive perspiration, fever, losing weight or being overwhelming tired are other symptoms of the disease. You might also find it difficult to swallow.

How do I know if my ceilings contain asbestos?

Firstly you need to know how long the ceiling has been decorated with the coating. It’s unlikely to contain asbestos if it was applied after 1999. Not that many people would have considered it after 1999 because it had lost its popularity! But since the ban in the UK, no textured coating should contain asbestos.

Bear in mind it isn’t so much the age of the ceiling you need to know but the age of the textured coating. The only way to be certain is by testing asbestos Artex. An asbestos testing kit cost £39.95 and contains all the items you need to take samples. The cost varies in terms of how many rooms you want to test and how many samples you take.

What are the dangers of asbestos Artex?

The material is not so dangerous that you need a license to take samples of it. You won’t need a license to carry out renovation work. However, the type of renovation you do could cause the textured coating to deteriorate or break up. For example, if you intend to steam the Artex off it will cause serious disintegration. For any form of large scale removal it’s advisable to employ a professional, qualified operative. For more detailed information regarding health and safety regulations click on non-licensed work with asbestos

If the Artex is in good condition you could consider placing ceiling boards over it. It’s the least messy and simplest way to hide it.

What is an Asbestos Self Testing Kit?

An asbestos self-testing kit is a product that contains gloves, a special filtration, personal protective equipment, sample bags, anti-bacterial wipes and simple instructions for taking samples at home or in any other building.

Asbestos self-testing kit by Asbestos Sampling

The kit provided by Asbestos Sampling contains everything required so that samples can be taken without causing damage to your health.

Here we break down what you will receive:

  • Step by step instructions to take you through the procedure for taking samples from start to finish
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) which has been approved by the Health & Safety Executive. The hooded CAT 5/6 coverall is made from fabric that is anti-static, soft and breathable. It’s ideal for protecting you from asbestos fibres.
  • P3 Filtered Mask which is specifically designed to protect you from breathing in the finest dust.
  • Powder free Nitrile Gloves made from synthetic rubber to prevent asbestos fibres from contaminating your hands
  • Anti-bacterial wipes to moisten your PPE before taking it off and disposing of it in the bag provided. The wipes prevent any more fibres being released from the PPE.
  • Two high grade asbestos bags, the red to place your PPE and samples in and the clear to place the first bag in. Regulations dictate that asbestos waste must be double bagged.
  • Prepaid delivery for you to return the bag to our laboratory which is UKAS approved.

When do I get the results?

You will ordinarily receive results via your mobile phone or email within 24 hours of our laboratory receiving the samples.

Check out our video below to see how simple the process is.

What happens if the results test positive for asbestos?

If it is confirmed that you have asbestos in your home don’t panic as you have options. If the asbestos is not broken or damaged in any way, you can ignore it or seal the area. However,  if it is crumbling or in bad condition you’ll need to arrange for its removal quickly.  The process of removal should only be undertaken by a specialist, asbestos abatement company. You can look for a licensed, local firm on the internet or call Asbestos Sampling and we will consult our database.

Why you need an asbestos self-testing kit

If you suspect there is asbestos anywhere in your home, an asbestos self-testing kit will allow you to find out rapidly.  If your home is more than 17 years old you can almost guarantee there will be asbestos somewhere.  Maybe it’s contained within decorative plaster such as Artex or insulating your pipes. It could be in ceiling, wall or insulation panels. It may even be in the ironing board you inherited from your grandmother!  Best to test and be safe!

If you are in any doubt that you need to test, watch this enlightening video:

For more information feel free to contact us at any time. Our staff are friendly and helpful and will be happy to share their knowledge with you.

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.

Knowledge, Awareness and a Test for Asbestos saves Lives

At Asbestos Sampling our role is not only to provide a safe method to test for asbestos but also to spread awareness.

It’s a fact that this lethal material has left behind it an unparalleled legacy of death and illness globally. However, Britain has been particularly hard hit with around 5,000 deaths annually. Tradespeople who have died are mainly, but not exclusively, those who have worked in the electrical, construction, insulation and plumbing industries.

Beware Asbestos Campaign app

In 2014 the Health & Safety Executive created an application and launched a “Beware Asbestos Campaign”.  Its purpose was to allow easy access to information so that a wider understanding and awareness of the dangers were available to the public. Specifically the HSE wanted tradespeople to be aware of the safety rules and regulations associated with handling the material. Additionally, it sought to educate people about the types of work that could lead to exposure and the necessary precautions they should take before starting such tasks.

Initially there was much criticism of the app with pundits asserting that it didn’t provide sufficient information. However, three years on the campaign has been a success with widespread appeal and access to the app.

It was never the intention of the campaign to bombard people with so much information that it became confusing.  It seeks to provide simple, easily understood data to encourage tradespeople to protect themselves. In consequence this will assist in bringing down the number of deaths from asbestos related diseases.  Click on HSE Beware Asbestos to download the app.

Knowledge is power

From our own point of view anything that helps people to understand the dangers of asbestos has to be a good thing.  Taking appropriate safety measures in dealing with it and knowing how to saves lives.

Asbestos is not only found in industrial environments. Any home built before 2000 in the UK is likely to contain some asbestos.  As DIY has become so popular over the past decade, it’s essential that you test for asbestos before you start any job in an older property.

The main things to look out for are old floor tiles, insulation boards, lagging on tanks, Artex type plaster, guttering and roofing. None of these things pose much of a risk unless they are broken, damaged or disturbed.  As soon as they are, there is danger of asbestos fibres becoming airborne and therefore a potentially lethal risk to your health.

Test for asbestos

Our asbestos testing kit contains everything you require to safely take samples of suspected material. Send them back to our UKAS accredited lab and we will give you the results within 24/48 hours of receipt. The kit is not expensive and you should perhaps view it as prevention against asbestos related diseases. Your health is precious and we intend to keep it that way.

For more information on how the kit works check out our video below or contact us to discuss your particular concerns.

 

 

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.

Could there be Asbestos Containing Materials in or Around your Fireplace?

Asbestos containing materials were common components used in the construction of UK homes during the early and mid-20th century.  Indeed, asbestos was so pervasive that virtually no public or private structure built during that time was completely free of asbestos. Many of these components are still in place today. That last fact comes as a bit of a shock to most people who thought the asbestos issue had been successfully addressed and put to bed. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that if your home or office is more than 17 years old asbestos containing products may have been used in its construction and may still be present.

Asbestos – forgotten but not gone

The word asbestos has so many appalling connotations that everyone was more than content to just stop talking about it once the UK’s total ban on asbestos went into effect in 1999. But that ban was not the end of the asbestos story – not by a long shot. Because today it’s estimated that up to 50% of UK homes may have asbestos lurking somewhere within. One part of the home that should be checked carefully for the presence of asbestos is the fireplace. If you want to keep that lovely feature fireplace in your home,  get an asbestos testing kit before you restore it. And here’s why:

Gas Fires

Gas fires today employ various types of ceramic to achieve their realistic log effects. However, it wasn’t that long ago that many of those fake logs were actually fabricated from asbestos containing materials. If those old asbestos logs are chipped they could release asbestos dust particles into the air. This is something you absolutely want to avoid. If you suspect that your old gas fire logs contain asbestos, replace them immediately.

Stove Gaskets

Asbestos stove gaskets, sometimes called stove rope, were commonly used in wood burning stoves to seal them against air leaks. These gaskets were so common that even today contractors often refer to modern stove gaskets that contain no asbestos as “asbestos rope.” If your wood burning stove is more than 20 years old there’s a decent chance that its gaskets contain asbestos.

Insulation

Asbestos insulation was often used in and around the fireplaces of older homes. This was due to the excellent fire suppression properties of asbestos. If asbestos containing insulation was used in your fireplace it may still be intact and therefore present no immediate danger. But if it is old and starting to break down you’ll want to have it removed as soon as possible. It’s advisable, and in some cases legally compulsory, to hire a qualified asbestos removal expert for this job.

Suspect asbestos containing materials?

If you suspect there may be materials in and around your fireplace that contain asbestos buy an asbestos sampling kit and follow the instructions carefully.  If asbestos is detected, contact an asbestos removal professional regarding the best way forward for your particular situation. Remember:

  • Not every home contains asbestos.
  • Not all asbestos needs to be removed.
  • Some asbestos containing materials can only be removed by a licensed professional.

Asbestos isn’t necessarily a health hazard. But it might be. Start down the road to peace of mind by testing your home for asbestos today.

Do you have Asbestos Products lurking in your Kitchen?

When we look for asbestos around the home we often focus on materials used in construction, but what about asbestos products in domestic use?

In addition to construction materials many old toys, domestic appliances and items for personal use contain asbestos. Those manufactured before 2000 in the UK are a potential source of exposure to lethal fibres.

Here are some you should be aware of, and if in doubt test for asbestos:

Oven gloves

Oven and heat protective gloves manufactured before the year 2000 are likely to contain asbestos. Studies have shown that gloves in good condition pose minimal risk. However, those that have been well worn with breaks in the fabric will release fibres that you could inhale.  For more information on research into oven mitts and other protective heat resistant clothing containing asbestos click on Exposure and risks from wearing asbestos mitts

Domestic appliances

Due to its excellent fire resistant properties, asbestos was used in the manufacture of linings for a whole range of domestic appliances used in the kitchen.  These include:

  • Grills
  • Toasters
  • Deep fat fryers
  • Cooking ranges
  • Ovens
  • Slow cookers
  • Dishwashers
  • Washing machines
  • Clothes dryers
  • Ironing boards
  • Pot holders

Indeed any appliance that was prone to overheat or used at high temperature benefited from asbestos materials. Unfortunately over time, with damage, the risk of fibres escaping is high.

Asbestos products for personal use

Hair driers: The mineral was also used in many hair driers because they were and still are used at high temperature.

Bottle warmers: The interiors of some baby bottle warmers were insulated with asbestos.

Heat guns: In 1977 Top Flite Models Inc. recalled one of its branded high temperature heat guns. The T/F Monokote guns were used by consumers who enjoyed building model aeroplanes. The heat shields inside the appliance actually released fibres into the air when the guns were being used.

Other regularly used appliances containing asbestos were electricity powered heaters, blankets and hair curling tongs.

Toys

Tremolite is one of the most lethal types of asbestos and it is this mineral that is most likely to be found in children’s toys. We’d like to say that its use in the manufacture of toys has ended but unfortunately this is not the case, particularly in toys produced in China.

Old and new crayons, Crime Scene Kits and toys cars with brakes are likely to contain asbestos if more than 17 years old and/or manufactured in China – check the labels!

Asbestos testing kit

If you have any doubt as to the presence of asbestos products in your home, buy an asbestos testing kit. It will put your mind at rest at a minimum and potentially save your life at best! Inhaling asbestos fibres can lead to cancer which may not manifest for many, many years.