Myth #1: All asbestos products look the same
FALSE. Asbestos commonly looks like fluffy attic insulation, but there are approximately 3000 products manufactured containing the mineral, therefore, do not all look the same.
Myth #2: Asbestos in your home/office should be removed immediately
FALSE. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has specific guidelines for how asbestos is to be treated and handled by licensed professionals. This is due to the fact that asbestos is at its most dangerous during the asbestos removal process. Not only is it a health risk for those removing the product, but asbestos fibres travel through the air and can be inhaled for days – even weeks – after improper removal. In some instances, it is deemed safer as a risk assessment to leave undisturbed asbestos alone, rather than trying to remove it and risk contaminating areas with airborne fibres.
If materials are starting to break, wear down or splinter, and you lack asbestos licensing, contact your local HSE office, or an independent asbestos consultancy to handle the issue for you.
Myth #3: Refresher asbestos awareness training isn’t necessary
FALSE. While the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012 doesn’t mandate a yearly refresher awareness training course, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends maintaining knowledge, awareness and understanding in relation to the latest applicable legislations, which can be life-saving.
Myth #4: Asbestos is banned in the U.S.
FALSE. The negative health effects of asbestos prompted the U.S. government to ban all new uses for the material in 1989, but it still remains legal for some applications. Recently, the U.S has been reviewing the ‘loosening’ of its asbestos legislations so that certain asbestos materials can be re-introduced into use. Asbestos-containing products not banned in the U.S. include clothing, brake and clutch components for automobiles and a wide range of construction materials.
Myth #5 : Companies that manufactured and sold asbestos products were unaware of the dangers of asbestos exposure.
Myth #6 : Mesothelioma is the only disease caused by asbestos.
FALSE: Breathing asbestos can lead to a variety of cancerous and noncancerous diseases, including lung cancer and asbestosis. Progressive conditions like asbestosis, pleural plaques and pleural thickening are not cancerous, but may cause pain and make breathing increasingly difficult. Other asbestos-related conditions include pleuritis, pleural effusion, atelectasis and COPD.
Myth #7: Asbestos is the only cause of mesothelioma.
FALSE: While exposure to asbestos is the most clearly-defined cause of mesothelioma, researchers have identified several mesothelioma risk factors that could increase the chances of someone developing the cancer. Another class of mineral fibers called zeolites may also cause mesothelioma. There are some reports of increased mesothelioma risk after a person receives radiation therapy for other cancers. Another potential cause is SV40, a virus that contaminated millions of polio vaccines from 1955 to 1963.
Myth #8 : Asbestos is a single mineral.
FALSE: Asbestos is a term for a group of 6 naturally occurring silicate minerals made of microscopic fibres.
Myth #9 : Asbestos fibres are invisible
FALSE. While it is true respirable asbestos fibres are extremely small and ‘invisible’ to the naked eye, they can be seen with a microscope.
Myth #10: Effects from asbestos exposure will be immediately felt
FALSE: Asbestos related diseases have a long latency period, meaning, the time from initial exposure to the diagnosis of a disease developed from it, can take years. Not all people exposed to it will develop such diseases.
Myth #11: My building inspection survey report would have told me if there was any asbestos present
FALSE: It is not mandatory for building inspection reports to identify asbestos. However, an asbestos survey can be specifically requested and this would itemize any identified asbestos. As a general guide, if the building was constructed and/or refurbished:
- Before the mid 1980’s – it is highly likely to have asbestos containing materials.
- Between the mid 1980’s to 1990 – it is quite likely to have some asbestos containing materials.
- After – 1990 – it is less likely to have many asbestos containing material present.
- 2000 onwards – asbestos use was fully banned so you would not expect to find asbestos containing materials within the construction buildings.