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Asbestos Regulations

When people first hear about the numbers of deaths in the year as a result of asbestos they generally wonder why stricter asbestos regulations were not put in place many years ago. This is in fact not negligence on anybodies part; the simple fact is nobody was aware of just how dangerous the material could be. I will now outline why asbestos regulations are so important, why they took so long to come into fruition and whether or not they now completely protect you from asbestos exposure.

Why asbestos regulations are so important.

When a hell of a lot of the existing buildings in the UK were being built, asbestos was simply considered an incredibly durable and useful building material. It is a naturally occurring mineral that is generally found and subsequently mined from rock formations, including those found in the UK. As it is when it's found, is not overly dangerous, however when it is processed it is separated into incredibly thin layers. These layers are then mixed with other materials and put back together in pretty much any shape and can therefore be used for a wealth of applications. The problem is that after it is put back together, if disturbed it is possible for tiny particles of asbestos to break off and become airborne. These particles are light enough to float in the air of an unventilated room for hours and are also invisible to the naked eye. When these particles are inhaled they are capable of causing both lung cancer and mesothelioma and as such asbestos regulations that govern how existing asbestos is dealt with is of crucial importance.

Why there were no asbestos regulations in the past.

The primary thing about its capability however is that these diseases do not actually develop for between fifteen and forty years, many of the three thousand deaths per year in the UK are actually caused by exposure that occurred as far back as the seventies. Had asbestos been capable of making people ill faster it would have been discovered far sooner however as it was, it was only discovered when people began to spot that those developing these diseases in their later lives were incredibly likely to have worked with asbestos when they were much younger. There was absolutely no reason to suspect asbestos could be dangerous before the discovery and hence no asbestos regulations were in place at the time when the majority of people got exposed.

Current Asbestos Regulations

Now however asbestos regulations accurately reflect the dangers that are posed be the hazardous material. The amount of uses for asbestos that have been allowed steadily declined until 1999 when it was no longer allowed to be used in any form of construction whatsoever. There are also various asbestos regulations now in place that make it the building owners responsibility to adequately manage any asbestos that is in their building. The important thing to remember however is that there are still many buildings in the UK that have asbestos that simply has not yet been discovered. You can therefore not expect current asbestos regulations to completely protect you from exposure. This means that if you work in construction or are for some other reason likely to come into contact with asbestos, you need to remain vigilant.

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