Protecting Your Family from Asbestos

Asbestos has long been a public health issue in the UK because of the past extensive use of it in industrial settings and in homes, schools, and other buildings. Exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma, an aggressive type of cancer that is almost always terminal, as well as other health issues. Asbestos is still a problem, it is still in homes and other buildings, and families and parents need to know how to protect themselves and their children from this harmful substance.

Asbestos and Mesothelioma in the UK

Asbestos use was banned in the UK in 1999, but the mineral lingers in buildings all over the country. It was used for decades in insulation, in factories, in home building materials, and in many other products found in all types of buildings. Workers in factories that used asbestos, their families, and people who lived near asbestos facilities were exposed and many are still suffering the consequences.

Exposure to asbestos can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis, diseases that may not show signs for decades until it is too late. Deaths related to asbestos are expected to peak soon and begin declining, but that doesn’t mean new cases won’t be diagnosed. Wherever asbestos still exists, there is a risk of exposure and illness, for adults and children.

Asbestos in the Home

Construction is one of the industries in which asbestos was most heavily used in the past. This is because it is light and durable, strong, flexible, and powerful resistor of heat, electricity, and fire. It can also act as a good soundproofing material. You may still find asbestos in roofing and siding, insulation, pipe coverings, stoves and furnaces, plumbing, flooring, adhesives, cement and wallboard, and other home materials.

Asbestos in Schools

Just as many homes still contain asbestos, school buildings may also harbour this dangerous material. In fact, it may be in as many as 75 percent of UK schools. The presence of asbestos in school building materials has impacted teachers and other staff workers the most, but children may also be impacted and could be exposed. This is especially true if the asbestos materials have not been well maintained and allowed to deteriorate or get damaged.

Toys and Asbestos

Toys and crayons imported from China have been found to contain asbestos in some cases. Girls’ makeup kits, science kits, crayons, and even clothing products for kids have tested positive for asbestos, although most children’s products are considered safe. Asbestos toy scares pop up from time to time and usually involve products made in China.

Protecting Children from Asbestos

It is possible to have asbestos in your home and still be safe. As long as it is contained and does not become exposed or damaged, the risk of exposure is very low. If you live in an older home, especially one that was constructed between the 1930s and 1980s you may want to have a professional asbestos abatement team check it out and determine if you have asbestos and if it is safely contained.

This is especially important to do before you attempt any home renovation or DIY projects. You may unknowingly expose asbestos and put your family at risk. If you do find you have asbestos, keep the whole family away from the house until it has been abated.

Determining if your child’s school has asbestos is more difficult, but talk to administrators to find out what they have done to test for asbestos and keep it contained. When it comes to toys and other children’s products, it’s smart to keep up to date on safety alerts and even to avoid toys that come from China. Asbestos is still a health problem in the UK and it is important for parents to be proactive and to protect their families from any accidental exposure.