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Asbestos littered around streets in the wake of the Tornado

Asbestosis kills | 30.07.2005 10:40 | Health | Birmingham

Yesterday when the chief structural engineer was being questioned by local people in Balsall Heath he revealed that there is some asbestos contamination in the streets and surrounding areas damaged by the tornado. He specifically referred to asbestos tiles and roofing materials that have been ripped off houses and are now lying around the streets.

asbestos roofing
asbestos roofing

Yesterday local people noticed that the street cleaning crews disappeared very quickly when they came across asbestos littered around the streets in Balsall Heath.

Specialist contractors are required to remove the asbestos in a controlled manner wearing safety suits and breathing apparatus, although there has been little evidence of their presence so far in the area. Local people haven't been informed of the asbestos contamination on their streets or the dangers associated with it.

Those aware of the asbestos risk are asking why hasn't Birmingham City Council informed people of these risks? And what are they doing about it?

Local people, the emergency services including the police and contractors working on the clean up have all been exposed to the dangers of asbestos. Why isn't the council employing more specialist contractors to clear up the asbestos littered around our streets?

Abestos resources:

'At least 3500 people in Great Britain die each year from mesothelioma and asbestos related lung cancer as a result of past exposure to asbestos. Annual numbers of deaths are predicted to go on rising into the next decade.'

Advice on Asbestos:

The following advice is designed to give a basic understanding of asbestos and asbestos containing materials. It is a ‘first port of call’ for those with an enquiry relating to asbestos, whether a householder or business. The advice pages contain contact details for further enquiries and details of publications containing comprehensive guidance on subjects from work on asbestos to legislation.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a term used for a naturally occurring group of minerals which have a fibrous crystal habit and which were used for years in many common building and other materials, primarily because of their very good resistance to both fire and electricity.

Why is asbestos dangerous?

Breathing in air containing asbestos fibres can lead to asbestos-related diseases, mainly cancers of the lung and chest lining. Asbestos-related disease is the biggest occupational health killer in the UK with 3,000 people currently dying each year, 25% of these once worked in the building and maintenance trades and often would have worked unknowingly on asbestos containing materials.

Who is at risk?

It is now illegal to use asbestos in the construction or refurbishment of any premises but many thousands of tonnes were used in the past and much will still be in place. As long as the asbestos is in good condition and will not be disturbed or damaged there is no risk. If, however, it is disturbed or damaged it can become a danger to health because the needle-like fibres may be released into the air and become inhaled.

Anyone who comes into contact with fibres can be at risk. Those who will be at particular risk are those who may disturb asbestos, anyone whose work involves drilling, sawing or cutting into the fabric of premises could potentially be at risk. The scientific evidence on exactly what exposures of asbestos causes disease is unclear but it is known the more asbestos fibres breathed in, the greater the risk to health.

Where is asbestos found in buildings?

Asbestos may be found almost anywhere in a building. Generally, the products containing a high percentage of asbestos (up to 90%) are more fragile and easily damaged, such as pipe or boiler lagging. Those products containing low percentages of asbestos (10-15%), such as asbestos cement roofing sheets, are more robust. In these products the asbestos fibres are bound into the cement and will only be released if the material is badly damaged, broken or otherwise machined (cut, drilled, sanded etc).

You are most likely to come across asbestos in the materials listed below:-

* sprayed asbestos and asbestos loose packing – used as fire breaks in voids
* moulded or pre-formed lagging – used in thermal insulation of pipes and boilers
* sprayed asbestos – generally used as fire protection in ducts, fire breaks, panels, structural steelwork, partitions, soffit boards and ceiling panels
* insulation boards used for fire protection, thermal insulation, partitioning and ducts
* some ceiling tiles
* millboard, paper and paper products used for insulation of electrical equipment. Asbestos paper has also been used as a fire-proof facing on wood fibreboard
* asbestos cement products, which can be fully or semi-compressed into flat or corrugated sheets, gutters, rainwater pipes and water tanks
* certain textured coatings
* some bitumen roofing material
* vinyl or thermoplastic floor tiles

Asbestosis kills


Display the following 5 comments

  1. Birmingham City Council exploited and abused Polish migrant workers — Put worker's health and safety before profit!
  2. why ??? — Rianna
  3. Birmingham City Council can't even acknowledge Balsall Heath either! — heads should roll for this
  4. City Council forces residents to clean up asbestos! — health and safety my arse!
  5. Red Bags for Asbestos Clean-up — Frances