The 4,500 Year Journey Between Asbestos Discovery and Its Banishment: Part One

2018-11-27 16:21:57 admin

The dangers of asbestos have been visible for nearly 2000 years, so why did it take so long for it to be recognised as a toxic material. PAC Asbestos Surveys digs into the history of Asbestos from its discovery over 4,500 years ago to its eventual banishment in 1999. This is the first of a four-part blog series that we will be publishing over the next few weeks.

2400 BC – Asbestos is Discovered

Evidence has been found near Lake Juojärvi in Finland that suggests people over 4500 years ago would make pots and utensils from the material. There is also evidence from 300 BC from Theophrastus, the successor to Aristotle, about the usage of the material. The name Asbestos has roots in the ancient Greek word ‘ἄσβεστος’ which means “unquenchable” or “inextinguishable”.

First Century AD – Asbestos’ Toxicity is Discovered

There was an ancient Roman scholar called Pliny the Younger who wrote about the slaves that would mine and work with asbestos becoming very ill. Of course, it took nearly 2000 years to discover what made the material so deadly to those who worked around it.

1858 – Asbestos Comes to US Industry

In 1858, The Johns Company began mining fibrous anthophyllite to be used in the production of asbestos installation from the Ward’s Hill quarry in Staten Island, New York. The forthcoming industrial revolution would see asbestos production skyrocket in North America and the first commercial mine opened in 1874 in Quebec.

1918 – Asbestos Risk is Recognised

In 1918, 50 years after the mining of Asbestos in the US began, The US Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report that revealed the discovery of the high risk of early death among those who had worked with asbestos.

1930 – Asbestosis is Discovered

Famous researcher, DR ERA Merewether, published a clinical examination of hundreds of workers in the asbestos industry in 1930. It was found that 25% of all workers examined suffered from Asbestosis.

He discovered that:

  • Asbestos is a delayed disease and those that had worked around it would not show symptoms for many years after their exposure.
  • The dust that comes off asbestos should be controlled via ventilation and all workers should use respirators for protection.
  • All workers that are exposed to asbestos should be made aware and warned of the risk in order to assure “sane appreciation”.
  • Any finished products that created dust should have it controlled and minimised to prevent further exposure.

His description reflects the exact same description as we use today. If the asbestos industry had listened and fully implemented all of his recommendations, tens of thousands of lives could have been saved.

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Salford Residents Told to Remain Indoors as Former Lucozade Factory Containing Asbestos is Demolished

2018-11-20 12:09:54 admin

According to bosses and the council, the risk of exposure to harmful asbestos but this is contradicted by the fact they are bringing in specialist cleaners to clean up the area surrounding the factory.

Last week, the former Lucozade factory located in Salford was destroyed by an enormous fire and it has now been confirmed that the factory will be demolished.

Residents in the Little Hulton area have been warned that they should keep all of their doors and windows closed while demolition work takes place as fears over asbestos exposure increases.

While the building was burning, fragments of asbestos were said to have been seen drifting from the roof and flying around the area. The potentially dangerous material landed on the homes of residents in the area surrounding the factory.

People living in the area have expressed their concern over the safety of the area as authorities aren’t cleaning the fragments up fast enough.

Salford Council conducted investigations immediately following the fire and confirmed that the risk to health in regard to the asbestos fragments was ‘low’ and that they would do a deep clean of the area.

A representative said: “The company owners are working to appoint specialist demolition contractors to remove the building.

“We expect this to start later this week.

“As a precaution, we recommend that you keep your windows and doors closed while the demolition takes place and keep pets away from the warehouse site.”

The council continued to say that that “no fibres were found in the air and more air quality tests will also be carried out after the demolition.”

They added: “This confirms that the risk to health is low and there is unlikely to be any significant exposure to asbestos.

“However, as a precautionary measure, it is sensible that any asbestos-containing debris is carefully removed.”

For asbestos surveys in Manchester please call 0161 327 0153 and we’ll be happy to help you.

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Manchester Landlord Avoids Jail After Asbestos is Found in His Building

2018-10-30 10:27:27 admin

A North Quarter building that was undergoing a renovation was found to have asbestos during an inspection and workers could have unknowingly been exposed to it, PAC Asbestos Surveys has learned.

The Stevenson Square building’s owner was hauled before courts over fears for health and safety that occurred during its refurbishment that was started five years ago.

The building in question is 1-3 Stevenson Square and eateries called Slice Pizzeria and Chai Latte are based in the ground floor.

The landlord of the building, Whaid Ahmed, has avoided jail time after appearing at Manchester magistrates court earlier this month.

The court prosecuted him after he failed to get an asbestos survey when work on the building started in April 2012.

This shocking news was uncovered when the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out a routine inspection of the building.

The inspection found an incredibly large amount of asbestos in the building and some of it was in very poor condition leading them to believe it had been disturbed.

This means that someone had previously tried to remove the asbestos without the proper safety equipment where the building had already been renovated.

Resulting from the investigation, the HSE found that Ahmed had failed to identify the risk involved in the removal of the deadly substance and he didn’t put any measures in place to make sure that his workers wouldn’t be exposed to it.

The HSE had also previously started enforcement against Ahmed over a similar issue previously and he was ‘well aware of his duties under the law’.

Ahmed, of Hale Barns, Altrincham, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 5(a), 11(1)(a) and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Matt Greenly said: “This case highlights the importance of surveying a property for asbestos to prevent risk to anyone occupying or working in that building and to reduce the risk of exposure to asbestos and contracting incurable diseases as a result of that exposure.”

For asbestos surveys in Manchester please call 0161 327 0153 and we’ll be happy to help you.

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Manchester Hostel Hit with £44k Court Bill for Lack of Asbestos Survey

2018-10-24 12:49:18 admin

Construction workers at a hostel in the Northern Quarter of Manchester were confronted with a ‘minefield’ of asbestos risk, PAC Asbestos Surveys has learned.

A fine and court fees costing over £44,000 have hit the directors of Hatters Hostel Ltd, the company who own Hatters Hostel on Newton Street, Manchester.

Manchester Crown Court heard that workers at the hostel could have been exposed to the very harmful substance – which is a cause of cancer in later life – after the owners failed to commission an asbestos survey before they began the refurbishment of their basement in the 19thcentury building.

A random health and safety inspection of the site discovered the health and safety breach at the former bowler hat factory. The owners had planned to turn the basement into a tavern for its guests.

At that point in time, work had been underway for over eight months and had involved construction workers from six different firms.

It isn’t known whether any of the workers on the site were exposed to the asbestos in the building.

Asbestos was found on 20sq m section of the basement that had yet to be stripped out, in the form of fire retardant textured paint. It is not known if this was present on other walls in the basement as they had already been stripped at this point. If construction workers had disturbed the paint, it would have put them at risk of contracting lethal cancerous diseases.

While opening the case against the hostel at Manchester Crown Court, prosecutor Joseph Hart said, “The workers working on that basement are sent into an environment where there are potential areas of asbestos, just as a soldier is sent into a minefield without a map.

“The survey would have provided a map as to where there is asbestos. It’s such an obvious duty to have one when the risks of asbestos are so plainly known within the industry. It’s a critical failing – it’s a 19th Century building, almost inevitably there was going to be some asbestos. We don’t know how many workers were exposed, it could have been two people who stripped out the whole of the basement over the course of a year, or more likely a large number of people in a short period of time.”

During sentencing, Judge Jinder Singh Boora said there wasn’t any evidence “a large number of workers” were exposed to asbestos or that any members of the public were exposed either, he also added that the hostel’s health and safety record was otherwise “impeccable”.

He added: “It’s absolutely essential for companies to perform risk assessments. What’s even more important is if the risk assessment relates to risk which, if it manifests, will lead to either serious injury or death. Asbestos is a killer. If one contracts asbestosis or mesothelioma, death is almost inevitable.”

HSE inspector Matt Greenly said after the case: “The requirement to have a suitable asbestos survey is clear and well known throughout the construction industry. Only by knowing if asbestos is present in any building before works commence can a contractor ensure that people working on their site are not exposed to these deadly fibres.

“The cost of an asbestos survey is not great but the legacy facing anyone who worked on this site is immeasurable. They now have to live with the realisation that due to the lack of care taken by Hatters Hostel Limited and Hatters Taverns Limited they may face a life-shortening disease at some point over the next 30+ years from an exposure which was totally preventable. This case sends a clear message to any company that it does not pay to ignore well-known risks on site.”

For asbestos surveys in Manchester please call 0161 327 0153 and we’ll be happy to help you.

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The Danger of Asbestos in Schools

2018-09-05 09:29:08 admin

Do you know if your child’s school has asbestos in it? And is it a danger to your children? One of the UK’s teaching unions has raise concerns about the potential that hundreds of school buildings may still contain asbestos. So, what is being done by the government to protect the school’s teachers and pupils?

By now, the dangers of asbestos are very well documented. Asbestos was banned as a building material in 1999, but it was regularly used in the construction of buildings until this date, including in schools between the 1950s and 1980s.

It has been reported that over 200 teachers have died across the UK since 2001 from mesothelioma, a form of cancer that is caused by the disturbance of asbestos (data from the National Education Union).

Mesothelioma is caused by someone being exposed to asbestos fibres and it typically takes the disease more than 20 years to develop and show symptoms.

Government research has found that children who are exposed to asbestos in schools are five times more likely to contract the disease than adults that are 30 years old.

However, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said that if asbestos is properly managed in can cause a “very low risk” to children and teachers in schools.

The BBC has conducted research that has found that over half of the schools in the North West are known to contain asbestos in their structure, but local authorities in the area don’t know if 44% of schools contain the material or not.

This unknown knowledge is because about 61% of schools are outside LEA control, including many academies and free schools.

The teacher’s union surveyed teachers in March 2017 and found that around 46% of teachers had been told that the school they work in does contain asbestos but about half of those said they had not been told where it was located in the schools.

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