Why Asbestos Floor Tiles Are Dangerous?
Asbestos containing material including floor tiles represent a great health threat in the home. Asbestos fibres are carcinogenic. When the fibres of asbestos are released due to a damaged floor tile, they can be trapped in the lungs leading to lung cancer.
Here we will look at the dangers of asbestos floor tiles, and what steps homeowners can take to safeguard the health of the households.
Why Asbestos Floor Tiles Are Dangerous?
Asbestos is present in a lot of building materials. Prior to the passing of the UK law banning asbestos in 1999, a lot of building materials including floor tiles contained asbestos. While materials containing asbestos are not dangerous when left intact, they do pose a significant health threat when they become damaged.
Damaged materials containing asbestos result in the release of fibres in the air that can be ingested or inhaled. Most of the fibres become trapped in the nose and throat. However, some of them can also be passed to the lungs or the digestive tract. This can lead to the formation of serious diseases.
Long term exposure to asbestos can result in serious lung infection. Asbestos risks depend on several factors. Some of the factors that result in increased risk of asbestos exposure include the following.
- The Extent of Asbestos Exposure — The amount and duration of asbestos exposure determine the risk of developing a disease. The longer you are exposed to asbestos, the greater are the chances of developing diseases related to asbestos exposure. Most of the people who contract the disease had been exposed to asbestos that was well above the exposure limits for a long duration.
- Smoking Habit — Smoking habit also determine the risk of developing asbestos related lung disease. Being a heavy smoker increases the risk of developing a disease ten times as compared to a non-smoker. People who smoke have a 50 to 90 percent chance of developing a lung cancer if exposed to asbestos
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What are the Diseases Caused due to Asbestos Exposure?
Asbestos fibres can’t be easily broken down by the body once they lodged into the body tissues. They remain in the lung damaging the oxygen carrying capacity of the lung. This leads to various health complications. Let’s take a look at some of the common health complications that can develop due to the exposure to asbestos.
Asbestosis is a chronic respiratory disease that is non-cancerous. Inhalation of asbestos tissues leads to scarring of the lung tissues. This leads to various symptoms such as dry crackling sound when inhaling air and shortness of breath. At advanced stages, the disease can lead to a heart attack as well. The worst part about asbestosis is that there is no treatment for the condition. The disease results in permanent disability.
2. Asbestos Warts
Prolonged exposure to asbestos fibres can also lead to the development of asbestos warts. The warts are in the form of hard skin growth. They can result in irritation and damage to the skin. Asbestos fibres are very small in size. As a result, they can easily penetrate the skin.
Similar to asbestosis, asbestos warts are not cancerous. In fact, they don’t cause any serious complications. Presence of the warts is just a sign of exposure to asbestos. Warts occur at the place where asbestos had penetrated the body. They are normally found on the palm of the hand, fingers, and sole of the foot. The size of the warts is similar to a millet seed at initial stages to that of a pea during later stages.
Mesothelioma is a cancerous respiratory disease. It is caused due to asbestos fibres getting trapped in the thin lining of the lungs, abdomen, and the chest. Hundreds of cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed every year in the UK. Mesothelioma cases are highest among senior individuals above the age of 75.
Majority of the mesothelioma cases are linked to asbestos exposure. At the moment, there is no cure for the disease. The symptoms of mesothelioma begin to appear after 20 to 50 years after a person is exposed to asbestos. Moreover, factors such as age, smoking habit, and overall immune health also determine the prognosis of the disease.
Individuals who are exposed to asbestos fibres for a long time can develop two types of cancer. These include.
- Pleural mesothelioma
- Peritoneal mesothelioma
Pleural mesothelioma occurs at the covering of the lung. It infects the thin tissue sheets that cover the lungs called the pleura. On the other hand, peritoneal mesothelioma care caused by infection of the thin lining of the abdomen called the peritoneum. Generally, pleural mesothelioma is more common than peritoneal mesothelioma. However, both the types of the disease are cancerous that can lead to death.
The above are the most common diseases caused by exposure to asbestos fibres. However, they are not the only diseases that occur due to prolonged asbestos exposure. A lot of studies have found that exposure to asbestos can lead to cancers of the ovaries. Moreover, some studies have found that asbestos exposure can also lead to the cancer of the larynx.
In addition, studies have linked asbestos exposure to cancers that are related to stomach, pharynx, rectums, and colon. Asbestos exposure greatly increases the risk of suffering from these diseases. Having said that, it is yet not clear whether asbestos alone is responsible for the diseases.
How Can Individuals Get Exposed to Asbestos?
Asbestos exposure can occur in two main ways. They include:
- Inhalation of asbestos — People can get exposed to asbestos fibres by inhaling air. It can occur when the asbestos containing minerals is damaged such as during renovation or demolition of the house. In these situations, asbestos fibres are suspended in the air in a great concentration that can get inside the body when inhaled. Also, exposure to asbestos containing material can occur when they are being manufactured or mined.
- Ingestion of Asbestos — Swallowing of asbestos can also lead to exposure to This can happen in different ways. They can be ingested when food or liquid that is contaminated with asbestos is inhaled. In addition, the ingestion of asbestos can occur after coughing up asbestos and then swallowing the saliva.
Inhalation of asbestos can lead to complications of the lungs. On the other hand, swallowing of asbestos can result in serious health complications related to the abdomen and the heart. Either way, exposure to the asbestos can lead to debilitating diseases including cancer.
Are there Any Legal Regulations in the UK Regarding Asbestos Containing Floor Tiles?
In order to reduce the risk of asbestos exposure, the UK government had passed the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. The legislation can into effect on 6th April 2012 and updated the regulations that were introduced previously by the European Commission, which had not been fully implemented in the UK. The EU regulation against the asbestos was passed in 2009 named Directive 2009/148/EC.
Salient Features of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012
UK Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 introduced similar measures that were introduced by the EU directive. However, there are a few additional requirements regarding non-licensed work. Here are some of the highlights of the UK regulations regarding asbestos exposure.
- Persons who are responsible for the maintenance and care of commercial properties have a ‘duty to manage’. They are legally required to take actions to reduce the risk of asbestos exposure at the workplace.
- In case asbestos containing materials including asbestos floor tiles are not damaged and are in good condition, they need not be replaced. However, the condition should be monitored regularly to ensure that there is no risk of exposure to
- Anyone who wants to carry on repair or maintenance work in the workplace, or on equipment that may contain asbestos are required to identify the location of asbestos, the type, and its condition. Moreover, they are required to monitor and control the risks.
- Asbestos removal should be carried out by a licensed contractor for notifiable licenced work. All the work including removal of asbestos, disposing of asbestos, and asbestos spraying must be carried out by professionals. The contractors are required for removal of all types of asbestos containing materials including asbestos floor tiles, asbestos roofing sheets, asbestos cement sheet, asbestos insulation board (AIB), and asbestos water tank removal.
- Training of the employees is mandatory if they are exposed to asbestos fibres. This training is required for maintenance workers, asbestos removal experts, and all other employees who can be exposed to asbestos through inhalation and swallowing.
The limit set for exposure to asbestos fibres is 0.1 per centimetre cube. Asbestos exposure that exceeds this limit is not safe and can lead to health complications describes earlier in this article. Ideally, the asbestos exposure should be near zero to avoid any health issues.
Asbestos Floor Tile Removal Costs
Asbestos tile removal costs vary depending on the size of the property and the extent of the exposure. An initial survey of the site will reveal how much work is required. The cost removing asbestos floor tile from the site can be anywhere between £350 to £1800, depending on the scope of the work. The actual cost of removing the asbestos tile depends on many factors including the extent of work required to eliminate the threat of asbestos exposure.
How to Remove the Threat Posed by Asbestos Floor Tiles?
An annual asbestos management survey is necessary on every commercial property. Private households in the UK can also get this survey done to find out if they are exposed to asbestos containing materials. Moreover, if you are planning a significant home improvement, you should consider getting an asbestos refurbishment and demolition survey.
During the survey, an asbestos removal expert will carry on a sample analysis. The analysis will be done to determine the extent of asbestos exposure at the site. The professional will also note the type of asbestos present in the asbestos tile. Moreover, the professional will report the condition of the asbestos tile. The results of the survey will determine whether asbestos removal work is required at the site or not.
Contact Licensed Asbestos Removal Contractors
You should consider contacting the local county office to determine the regulations regarding asbestos removal in your area. Also, you should also hire a licensed asbestos removal contractor. This is particularly important for commercial property owners. The contractors should be licensed to remove asbestos floor tile in your area.
Consider contacting a company that has years of experience in asbestos removal in west London. Make sure that the company has a team of professionals who are expert in asbestos collection in London. In order to avoid any inconvenience, it’s essential that you have the asbestos survey and abatement done by the same company.
At the start of the work, it’s recommended that you get a written record for the cleanup and removal of asbestos from the premises. This is important to avoid any inconvenience during later stages. The contract agreement should include the type of work that will be performed, expected timeframe for completion, and the total costs. This costs should include the cost of inspection, asbestos removal, cleanup and disposal of the materials.
After the end of the job, you should consider getting a written proof that all the procedures were followed correctly, and that the asbestos has been removed from the site. Consider getting a follow-up inspection of the site to make absolutely sure that asbestos is not present at the site.
Asbestos containing materials should be replaced or insulated if they get damaged. An expert and licensed asbestos removal contractor will check the condition of the asbestos tile and inform you whether any risk of exposure is present. The survey will include testing the air to find out about asbestos levels.
Generally, the asbestos tile removal or insulation will be required if the tiles are damaged. In case any work is required, you and your family should remain prepared to temporarily relocate to another place while the asbestos removal work is being carried out.