What is Asbestos?
Removing asbestos-containing material is a complex procedure and must only be done by a specialist contractor such as Safeway Environmental. Asbestos waste is hazardous and improper removal increases the risk of fibre inhalation. There are detailed rules about how the waste should be wrapped, labelled and disposed of.
Asbestos is the name for a group of naturally occurring mineral fibres which are strong and both heat and chemically resistant. Due to these properties, asbestos was commonly used in the past as insulation and fireproofing. It was also used as a component in other building materials.
There are three main types of asbestos found in Ireland – chrysotile (white asbestos), amosite (brown asbestos) and crocidolite (blue asbestos). The risk associated with exposure to asbestos relates to the possibility that the fibres within the asbestos containing material (ACM) can become released into the air and are then inhaled. Breathing in air containing asbestos fibres can lead to asbestos-related diseases (mainly cancers of the chest and lungs).
These diseases will not occur immediately and can take from 15 – 60 years to develop. Note that as long as asbestos is in good condition and there is no disturbance or damage to the ACM, it will not pose a risk to health as fibres will not be released. It is now prohibited to use, re-use, sell or supply asbestos or asbestos containing materials or products.
However products or materials containing asbestos, which were already installed or in service prior to the prohibition, may remain in place until they are disposed of or reach the end of their service life. As a result, there is still potential for exposure to asbestos in a variety of workplaces due to the large quantities of asbestos and ACM's which were used in buildings in the past.
Text courtesy of the Health and Safety Authority. For more visit www.hsa.ie