It may not be well known that, despite the ban on white chrysotile asbestos imposed in 1999 by the Working Regulations on Asbestos Protection, it was not until 1 January 2005 that legislation was enacted concerning the final and full ban on all imports and use of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). Here is my official site.
Until this time, some types of insulation boards (AIB), cement products and surface coatings could still be permitted to be used in the construction of domestic and commercial properties by the construction industry. Knowledge of the life-threatening hazards of asbestos exposure was also not made accessible to the workforce for much of the twentieth century.
The lack of avoidance of asbestos contamination left a horrific legacy for the many thousands of employees that continues to this day. Asbestos fibre dust inhalation, which persists indefinitely in the lining of the lungs, gradually causes asbestosis disease and lethal malignant and incurable mesothelioma cancer tumours. A long gestation period of up to 50 years prior to the occurrence of the first signs of asbestosis also means a survival rate of just 4 to 12 months after diagnosis has been confirmed.
The asbestos material, in its most common types of amosite (brown asbestos), crocidolite (blue asbestos) and chrysotile (white asbestos), was commonly used in most of the UK industry and production until the 1970s and 80s as an inexpensive source of durable but flexible heat insulator and fire retardant. Sprayed asbestos coatings were commonly used in public buildings between 1935 and 1971 for the acoustic and thermal insulation and fire safety of structural steel works.
While now a less common occurrence, asbestos-containing fire retardant and mitigation products, which were used in many homes , offices, hospitals , schools, department stores and other structures, can still be found in properties designed or renovated before the 1980s, or in some cases much later.
The most popular fire protection materials made with asbestos, aside from pipe lagging and linings, include wall panels, boards and fire doors (often indistinguishable from standard wooden doors). Fire dampers made from asbestos were protection devices that were often mounted inside the air duct system of a building to prevent fire from spreading from one location to another.
Fire detection equipment could also be located in certain premises, however, and it was likely to come into close contact with individuals. Fire blankets used to extinguish both small and medium-sized fires and flames that have spread to the clothing or skin of a person are often commonly mounted.
Similarly, several industrial, engineering and manufacturing factories would contain metal mesh blankets that would be draped over welders and other employees to prevent burns or accidents, often made of interwoven metal and asbestos strands.