What is Asbestos?

So you need to get an asbestos survey, and you’ve heard of asbestos in the news. You may know that asbestos is very harmful, but you don’t really know what it is.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral made up of long, thin fibrous crystals. It is still mined today in countries such as Russia, Canada, India, China and Kazakhstan.

In the late 19th century, asbestos became popular because of its resistance to heat, electricity and chemical damage, its sound absorption and tensile strength. It was therefore added to many different material to take advantage of these properties, such as cement to make corrugated roofing and fire-retardant products. Asbestos fibres are long and strong enough to be woven into fabrics, ropes etc. and can also be added to plastics to give them the above properties. Thousands of different products have had asbestos added to them.

Three main types of asbestos have been used in the Ireland – chrysotile, amosite and crocidolite (white, brown and blue). Chrysotile is by far the most common.

So you now know why asbestos has been used, so why is it so harmful? Imagine asbestos mineral fibres as microscopic needles. If a person were to breathe those needles in, they would travel far down into the lungs. When that person breathed out, those asbestos needles would not come out because they would be lodged inside.

The human body cannot break down asbestos, so instead it forms a scar around each fibre or needle. This then may lead to asbestosis or mesothelioma both of which are fatal. Cruelly asbestos related diseases don’t generally present until 25 to 50 years after exposure.

The use, importation and sale of all asbestos was banned in Ireland in 1999. This means that any building in Ireland constructed prior to 2000 may contain asbestos. However buildings constructed after 1996, should have a health and safety file which should give details of any asbestos containing materials used. However unless the H&S file clearly states that no asbestos products were used then it shouldn’t be assumed that none were.

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Asbestos Sample Laboratory

Our qualified analysts, are equipped with state of the art equipment, using industry leading techniques, to analyse bulk materials for asbestos, at out purpose built laboratory in Dublin that is INAB Accredited to ISO Safety Standard 17025 (Testing).

Our consultants are available to issue detailed reports and risk assessments, to advise on the appropriate recommendations to take, based on the type and condition of the asbestos-containing material and the work being proposed.

We offer a fast turn-around service for when you need a quick response, and a cost-effective bulk materials alternative.

Please call or send us an email for a quote.