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White, blue and brown: the dangerous tricolour of asbestos

The effects of working with asbestos first became more widely recognised in the very early 1900s by a doctor conducting a post-mortem in a 33 year-old woman who had been working with the material for just thirteen years. He coined the phrase asbestosis which is a scarring of the lungs caused by breathing in large amounts of asbestos fibres over a prolonged period. The Government then carried out a report and eventually changed the law in 1931 to ensure people’s health and well being were much better protected when working with it.

Although it is a naturally occurring substance and exceptionally useful for certain applications due to its heat resistant properties, we now know that it is highly dangerous and causes lung cancer, pleural thickening, mesothelioma and asbestosis. It comes in three “colours” – white, blue and brown – although it cannot be identified by its colour as such, and the blue and brown forms have been completely banned in the UK but the white form can still be used in a very few exceptional instances. Sadly, in spite of how dangerous we know asbestos to be, all three forms are still used in many other countries across the world.

So if you suspect your office or home might have some asbestos in the walls, roof or floor or anywhere else for that matter, don’t take any risks and call in an expert. We’re not trained or licensed to handle asbestos but you can find a local company who is on the Health and Safety Executive’s list of all current asbestos licence holders.