5 Surprising Facts About Asbestos

11 Jan 2019

Asbestos was a popular building material back in the day. It was used extensively due to its affordability and excellent insulation and fire-resistant properties and was even used in everyday products such as clothes and crayons, until it was finally banned in 2004. Though you are probably already aware of asbestos and its harmful health effects, there are still some things you may not have known about this once popular material. Here are six surprising facts about asbestos.

1. It's still being mined and used in other countries.
While some countries, like Australia, have banned asbestos, it is still being mined and used in other regions. In the 1980s, the harmful effects of asbestos came to light when it was discovered that asbestos fibres can lodge in the lungs and develop into serious illnesses after a long period of dormancy. Despite this, the substance is not completely banned in countries like the United States of America and Mexico while countries such as Russia, China, India and Zimbabwe still mine and export asbestos.

2. Asbestos has been around for a long time.
The earliest known use of asbestos was around 4,000 B.C. where the long hair-like asbestos fibres were used for wicks in lamps. In 2,500 B.C. in what is now Finland, asbestos fibres were found mixed with clay to create stronger ceramic utensils. Between 2,000-3,000 B.C. the embalmed bodies of Egyptian pharaohs were wrapped in asbestos cloth prior to burial. Asbestos eventually grew in popularity, with the most of the world's biggest civilisations, using the material for its fire-resistant properties. In fact, some people thought asbestos was a form of magic. It wasn't until the late 19th century that asbestos started to be commercially mined for use as industrial insulation.

3. Asbestos exposure in the workplace is common.
Many of occupational cancer diagnoses are linked to asbestos exposure in the workplace and asbestos related cancer is one of the leading causes of work-related deaths.

4. It was used in everyday products.
While many people associate asbestos with insulation products, did you know it was also used in other materials? Asbestos could be found in roofing shingles, electrical appliances, floor tiles, and pipes. It was even used to make fake snow products for Christmas decoration, filter material in cigarettes and gas masks, and, most shockingly, as an added ingredient in toothpaste.

5. Awareness is key.
Even though asbestos is no longer being used today, there's still a chance that workers and other people might be exposed to asbestos during renovations, especially if the work is in an older building. This is exactly why you should make an effort to conduct asbestos testing to safely manage this potential hazard, should it be present in a building.

If you're not sure if asbestos is in your workplace, contact the experts at Identifibre. We conduct asbestos inspections in Melbourne and neighbouring areas. Our professional asbestos experts are ready to help you and address your concerns, as well as come up with an effective asbestos management plan.

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