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3rd May, 2018

10 Asbestos Awareness Questions And Answers Explained

If you work in construction or any other industry where you may disturb or be exposed to asbestos containing materials, you need to have asbestos awareness training.

If you have had, or are about to refresh, your asbestos awareness, you should be able to answer these 10 asbestos awareness questions. If you have never done the course before, this information should give you a good head start.

Don't worry if you are not sure about the answers, we explain them below so you can be prepared for your asbestos awareness course.

1. In which year were all asbestos products banned in the UK?

Answer: 1999.

This is the year that white (chrysotile) asbestos was banned, following the ban on blue (crocidolite) and brown (amosite) asbestos in 1985.

The Asbestos (Prohibitions) (Amendment) Regulations 1999 came into force on the 24th November 1999, and banned the importation and supply of all types of asbestos.

2. What are the three common types of asbestos?

Answer: Chrysotile, Amosite, Crocidolite.

Also known as white, brown and blue asbestos, these three types of asbestos are the common types used in UK construction.

3. What is a disease caused by asbestos?

Answer: Mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is one of the biggest asbestos related diseases, killing around 2,500 people in the UK each year. But you could also choose asbestosis, lung cancer, pleural plaques or stomach and larynx cancer as your answer.

4. When does an asbestos containing material become dangerous?

Answer: When it is disturbed.

You are not in immediate danger from asbestos materials if they are in good condition and intact.

However, if asbestos containing materials are disturbed, through sanding, drilling, cutting etc or if they are in poor condition, the deadly asbestos fibres can be released.

5. What is the main route of entry for asbestos fibres?

Answer: Inhalation.

The biggest risk from asbestos fibres is through inhalation.

The fibres are so small they can remain suspended in the air for days, and when breathed in, they can become lodged in the lining of the lungs.

asbestos fibres tiny

6. What type of asbestos survey is needed for construction work?

Answer: Refurbishment and demolition asbestos survey.

There are two types of asbestos survey, a management asbestos survey, and a refurbishment and demolition asbestos survey.

For building work, you need the refurbishment and demolition asbestos survey, which is a more intrusive survey to identify any asbestos materials that may be present in the areas you are working and disturbing as part of the project.

7. Why are smokers at increased risk from asbestos?

Answer: Because they have reduced lung function.

Smoking damages the tiny hairs in the throat and lungs and desensitises the lungs from smoke and particles. The immune system reduces the white blood cells sent to clean up the lungs.

Because of this, smokers are at a higher risk of asbestos related diseases, if they are exposed to asbestos fibres.

8. Which buildings might contain asbestos?

Answer: Any build before 2000.

Because asbestos materials were used so heavily from the late 1800's to the ban in 1999, any building built before 2000 is likely to contain asbestos unless it has been fully removed previously.

Even building older than the late 1800's may have been refurbished during the period asbestos was in use or had asbestos products and materials used them.

9. Why might you not know if you have disturbed asbestos?

Answer: Because asbestos related diseases take years to develop.

You don't die from asbestos exposure immediately. Asbestos related diseases can develop over a number of years and often decades.

It's hard to tell if a material contains asbestos without a survey, so with no immediate warning signs, make sure you know what materials you are working on.

10. How many people die in the UK each year from asbestos exposure?

Answer: Over 5000.

Currently its estimated that over 5000 people die each year from past asbestos exposure.

asbestos related deaths chart

Around 2500 from mesothelioma, around the same from asbestos related lung cancer, and approximately 450 from asbestosis.

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