Asbestos: what is it?

Many people do not know what asbestos is and are shocked to know that it is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral which is mined from the ground.

In the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s it was widely used within the UK and was hailed as a miracle substance. Shockingly Britain has one of the worst asbestos claims legacies outside of those exporting and mining countries such as Russia, Canada, China and South Africa.

The two main types of asbestos are serpentine and amphibole.

Serpentine asbestos have a snake like shape to the fibre which is what causes the fibre to get lodged in the pleura or the peritoneal membranes.  Unfortunately, natural clearance i.e. coughing does not occur when serpentine fibres are lodged and they remain within the lung. Often the tumour forms around the fibres that are lodged.

The main serpentine asbestos is Chrysotile (white) asbestos.  Even more shocking to know is that many asbestos producing countries are still advising that white asbestos is not as dangerous or is not dangerous at all if it is contained within cement.

This is not true.  There are no safe levels of exposure to asbestos when it comes to the development of mesothelioma.

Amphibole is the other type.  The two sub types are Crocidolite (blue) asbestos and Amosite (brown) asbestos.  Both are known to be very dangerous.

Please contact the asbestos team if you would like to discuss how you think you may have been exposed to asbestos.

If you are unsure whether you have been exposed we would be able to bring our asbestos photograph library so you can identify potential sources of your exposure as asbestos was used in many industries and within the home.