Healthy living

Asbestos danger for DIY-ers

DIY and asbestos Banned substance still in many homes

Nearly two-thirds of people are not confident about identifying asbestos in their home, a new survey suggests.

And nearly half of homeowners are unaware that asbestos was used as a building material in homes as late as the 1990s.

Asbestos containing building materials were once widely used by the construction industry to insulate and fireproof buildings, especially from the 1960s. Classified as a carcinogen, its use was banned in 1999.

Breathing in asbestos fibres can lead to serious diseases such as mesothelioma (cancer of the lining of the lung), lung cancer and asbestosis which although not always fatal, can be very debilitating.

However, it's estimated that around fourteen million homes in the UK were built when asbestos was being used as a bulding material.

The survey of 2000 people for the British Lung Foundation also found that less than a third (29%) of those questioned said they would check their homes for asbestos before starting any DIY work.

More than three quarters of people surveyed also said they had never received any information which would help them identify asbestos materials and how to manage the substance.

Perhaps most alarming of all, one in ten said they would dispose of it themselves, putting our lives at risk as well as their own!

At home, asbestos can typically be found in materials such as floor tiles, toilet cisterns, textured ceiling coatings and linings of boiler cupboards.

As part of Action Mesothelioma Day, the BLF is urging all DIY-ers to make sure they know how to identify asbestos-containing materials and do DIY safely.

Having this asbestos knowledge could help to prevent them developing asbestos related cancer -mesothelioma - in the next 15 to 50 years, which now kills one person every five hours in the UK, the charity said.

The BLF has teamed up with DIY expert and TV presenter Craig Phillips, winner of Big Brother 1 to promote the Action Mesothelioma Day campaign.

Craig said: “ This campaign is particularly close to my heart as my uncle has been affected by asbestos exposure so I know exactly how dangerous asbestos can be. I want to encourage keen DIY-ers to be more vigilant in their homes when making improvements and follow the BLF’s Be Asbestos Aware top tips.”

This article was published on Fri 2 July 2010

Image © British Lung Foundation

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