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Glossary: Asbestos

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About Asbestos

Asbestos was used in product manufacturing and in building construction and can be mainly found in houses, offices and public buildings (such as schools, hospitals and clinics), built before 2000. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), asbestos exposure is linked to around 5,000 deaths every year.

Asbestos is often difficult to identify as it is used in a variety of forms and mixed with other materials. Asbestos was typically used in:

  • Cement products including pips, roofs and flues
  • Water tanks and toilet cisterns
  • Insulating boards and in wall cavities
  • Ceiling tiles and textured coatings (aslo known as Artex)
  • Textiles and some composite materials

It may take many years for a worker to show any symptoms of the exposure to asbestos.  Workers are often unaware they’ve been exposed because asbestos has no smell and its fibres are so small that they are difficult to see.

Asbestos is linked to occupational lung cancers such as asbestosis and mesothelioma.

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