Asbestos mining began many years ago, but did not start on a large scale until the end of the 19th Century where it became increasingly popular among manufacturers and builders.

This is because of its sound absorption qualities and its resistance to fire, heat, electrical and chemical damage. Asbestos was also very affordable.

The 3 main types of asbestos that were commonly used in the UK and can still be found in buildings today are:

Brown Amphibole
Blue Amphibole
White Serpentine

The other 3 types of asbestos are: Actinolite,  Anthophylite & Tremolite all amphibole group

Asbestos used in England dates back to the 1700’s but did not become widespread until the Industrial Revolution during the late 1800’s. Factories were opening up everywhere and new uses for the miracle mineral were being devised on a regular basis.

Asbestos-containing materials typically found in buildings built between the 1950’s and 2000 include, but are not limited to:

  • 1950 – 2000 Pipe insulation

  • 1950 – 2000 Sprayed insulation

  • 1950 – 2000 Insulating board

  • 1950 – 2000 Cement profile products

  • 1950 – 2000 Toilet cisterns

  • 1950 – 2000 Thermo plastic floor tiles

  • 1950 – 2000 Textured coatings

  • 1950 – 2000 Gaskets

The first documented death related to asbestos was in 1906. In the early 1900’s researchers began to notice a large number of early deaths and lung problems in asbestos mining towns. All types of asbestos fibres are known to cause serious health hazards in humans.

While it is agreed that Amosite and Crocidolite are the most hazardous asbestos fibre types. Asbestos exposure becomes a health concern when high concentrations of asbestos fibres are inhaled over a long period of time.

Who Can Be Affected?

People who become ill from inhaling asbestos are often those who are exposed on a day-to-day basis in a job where they worked with the material.

Through the 1960’s, 70’s & 80’s asbestos was used to fireproof roofs, flooring, in heat installation and for a variety of other purposes. During the mid to late 1980’s public health concern focused on potential asbestos fibre exposures of building occupants and workers in buildings which have asbestos containing materials, and their risks of developing lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

In the UK blue and brown asbestos along with all the remaining amphibole group of asbestos types were banned outright in 1985 while the import sale and second hand reuse of white asbestos was outlawed in 1999. The CAR (The Control of Asbestos Regulations) 2006 regulations introduced additional liabilities. These included a specific duty placed on non-domestic property owners (duty holder) e.g. factories, offices etc. to manage asbestos on its premises. The regulation was set in motion by making the, duty holders, fully aware of its potential presence. This was expected to ensure that the material does not deteriorate, and it was to be removed if it was deemed necessary.