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What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material. It is very resistant to heat, electricity and chemical damage, plus, it absorbs sound really well and is as strong as steel when being stretched. Asbestos-containing materials are versatile and were used extensively in the UK as building materials (eg for fire-proofing and as insulation material), from the 1950s. The three main types of asbestos that have been used commercially are:

  • blue (crocidolite);
  • brown (amosite); and
  • white (chrysotile).

Usage began to decline in the 1970s as evidence about the harmful effects of asbestos were gradually better understood. The use of blue and brown asbestos was banned by law in 1985 and using white asbestos was finally banned in 1999.

This means that asbestos-containing materials can still be found in many buildings built or refurbished up to the year 2000.

Here are some of its uses in the building trade. Select the navigation buttons below to find out more.