Dangers of asbestos for your health
Learn how to protect yourself
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is the trade name used for the fibrous variety of six naturally occurring metamorphic minerals. Due to its low cost, elasticity and high chemical, thermal, electrical and tensile strength, asbestos was used for several years in the construction industry. In Europe it was particularly used between 1945 and 1990.
Asbestos is present in many types of materials such as: asbestos cement tiles, waterproofing coatings for buildings, plaster, fireproof coatings, false ceilings, thermal and acoustic insulation, among others.
However, despite its favorable characteristics for the construction industry, this material was banned for more than a decade because of the dangers it represents for our health.
The health consequences
The presence of asbestos has been linked to cases of cancer. The different varieties of asbestos are carcinogenic, so it is very important that exposure to any type of asbestos fiber is minimized. The respiratory tract is the most frequent form of contact of the fiber with the organism. Construction professionals are the ones who are at greatest risk of inhaling respirable fibers and developing diseases.
These microscopic fibers can be deposited in the lungs and remain there for many years, which may cause disease years later. Often, symptoms are confused with other problems associated with aging, especially in cases of pathologies related to decreased respiratory capacity and tumor diseases.
Exposure to asbestos can cause diseases such as: asbestosis, mesothelioma, lung cancer and gastrointestinal cancer.
In Portugal, the use/commercialization of asbestos and/or products containing it as of January 1, 2005 has been forbidden, in accordance with the provisions of Directive 2003/18 / EC, transposed into national law through Decree-Law no. 101/2005, of June 23.
What to do if you have asbestos in your building
Buildings constructed or operated before January 2005 are more likely to contain asbestos. Residents or workers of these buildings must:
– Be careful about maintenance and do-it-yourself activities;
– Pay attention to regular maintenance operations;
– Carry out careful evaluations before any intervention (in works related to the repair or alteration of electrical installations, for example);
– If asbestos is not in good condition, ensure that you seek qualified professional services.
It is important to note that not all buildings with asbestos constitute a health hazard, depending on their state of conservation and the material applied.
In the case of indirect contact, the main risk is not so much related to the fact that people live or work in these facilities, unless they are degraded, but result from accidents or untimely interventions carried out by unprepared personnel and who do not take protective measures appropriate. In these situations, there is an increased risk for workers and residents.
In general, the presence of asbestos in building materials poses a low health risk, as long as the material is in good condition, is not friable and is not subject to direct aggression. Any activity that impairs the integrity of the material (cutting, drilling, cracking, etc.) substantially increases the risk of release of fibers into the air.
If you suspect that materials containing asbestos are present and are likely to release fibers into the air, you should seek expert advice. It is necessary to carry out measurements with the appropriate equipment and that the presence of asbestos is confirmed in the laboratory. If the presence of asbestos is confirmed, the specialized technicians will implement the best solution for your specific case. The best solution may not be the removal, but the encapsulation.
Prudêncio’s encapsulation solution
Prudêncio pioneered the development and application of a method of encapsulation of asbestos-containing fiber cement roofs, avoiding the release of fibers that pose a risk to public health.
The encapsulation consists of the confinement of asbestos with specific coatings. The system of Prudêncio is not a simple operation of cosmetics, but a real rehabilitation through the confinement of the same ones. The fiber cement is completely surrounded and protected from the causes that lead to its degradation: physical aggressions, thermal amplitudes, rain and humidity.
We transform a potentially dangerous roof into a sustainable system
Consult us and ask your questions. We make free estimates without commitment. Contact us!
Legal and Regulatory Documents
- Decree-Law No. 101/2005 of 23 June forbidding the use and sale of asbestos fibers and products containing these fibers
- Decree-Law No. 266/2007 of 24 July 2007 on the protection of workers against the risks of exposure to asbestos at work
- Decree-Law No. 46/2008, of March 12, approving the regime for the management of construction and demolition waste
- Ordinance nº 40/2014, of February 17, that establishes the norms for the correct removal of the materials containing asbestos and for the packaging, transport and management of the respective residues of construction and demolition generated, with a view to the protection of the environment and human health
Documents for consultation
- Guide to Good Practices to Prevent or Minimize Asbestos Hazards in Work involving Asbestos (for Engagement, Labor, and Labor Inspection) – A Guide to Work by the High-level Committee on Labor Inspection (CARIT)
- Fact Sheets Housing and Health – 3.9 Asbestos in Housing and Respiratory Diseases – Directorate General for Health