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Asbestos - Just what is it?

18 April 2012

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was used extensively throughout Britain's industry from the 1800’s onwards

Asbestos was initially seem as a “miracle” mineral because of  its many useful properties, such as its resistance to heat, electricity and sound.   By the mid 20th Century it was to be found in plaster, lagging materials used in thermal pipe insulation procedures, fireproofing materials, gas mask filters, brake pads and shoes, ceiling tiles and even garden furniture

It is still present today in many buildings such as hospitals, schools and factories, where it is often used to lag boilers and heating pipes and also in the construction of ceilings and walls

Providing asbestos is well maintained and is not damaged in any way and is not releasing dust and fibres into the air it is relatively harmless however once it becomes damaged or the fibres are released then that is when the problems associated with asbestos start.

By the 1930s it had become clear that the miracle mineral material was not all it was supposed to be as a large number of problems had started to come to light and the common thread in all of these problems was asbestos.

The use of asbestos was finally banned in 2004, but by that time it had been used in building and industry for over 200 years, which means that it still poses a very real threat to people’s heath today.

How many of us have been exposed asbestos? Quite simply we just don’t know.

Asbestos has been found to be responsible for a number of conditions.

  • Pleural Plaques
  • Pleural thickening
  • Asbestosis
  • Asbestos related lung cancer
  • Mesothelioma.

The danger with asbestos is the inhalation of asbestos dust and fibres. This may  have happened at any time during a person's life as the dust and fibres are almost invisible to the human eye and can remain within a persons respiratory system for years, even decades before any symptoms or illness develop.

All of the conditions lead to breathing difficulties and in some cases are fatal, all are incurable.

In the event that you think you may have been exposed to asbestos and are experiencing problems with your health then your first port of call is your GP. He or she may then refer you if necessary to your local hospital.

If you have developed an asbestos related condition you may be able to recover compensation so long as you can identify where you were exposed to asbestos and who was responsible for your exposure and as long as it is possible to trace an insurer to pay any compensation.

If you think that you or any of your family have been exposed to Asbestos or you may have an Asbestos related condition then please do not hesitate to contact Alan Jolliffe an Industrial Disease specialist at Harvey Ingram Solicitors LLP on 01908 295 373 or 07834 129 686 or email him at

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