08 Gezondheids- en werkplekaspecten
 >  Recognizing asbestos
Discussie > Discuss this with your colleagues!
  1. Asbestos is difficult to recognize.
  2. What should you do when you suspect that you have encountered asbestos during your work?

Asbestos literally means indestructible and is a naturally occurring silicate material (stone) that occurs in various places throughout the world. It is fibrous and possesses a number of special properties.

  • Resistant to high temperatures and temperature fluctuations
  • Wear-resistant
  • Tension-resistant
  • Resistant to acids and lye, and microorganisms
  • Insulating
  • Non-conductive electrically
  • Durable and easy to process

Asbestos, in pure or mixed form, is found in many products: linoleum, hard plastic floor tiles, corrugated sheet, roofing slate, wallboard, asbestos cement plates, pipes and tubes, rope, packaging, spray asbestos, braking and friction materials, Christmas decorations, door handles, welding gloves, and more.

Nowadays, asbestos may no longer be used, because it is a proven carcinogenic. Asbestos is still found in many buildings or objects built prior to 1994, because asbestos was only banned starting in 1994. It is therefore important for you to know how to recognize asbestos so as to avoid exposure to asbestos fibres.

Asbestos has been incorporated into more than 3,500 products, of which the following are the best known:

Rain drains
Martinit sewer pipes
Flue gas exhausts
Tiled floors
Roofing tar paper
Risico's > What can happen?

When you inhale asbestos fibres, you can contract nasty diseases that often only emerge after a long time (10-30 years). It is therefore important for you to know how to recognize asbestos so as to keep exposure to asbestos fibres as low as possible. Generally speaking, asbestos is only released when a product is processed or treated.

Asbestos can enter your body in the following ways:

  • Through the skin
  • Through the digestive system
  • Through the respiratory tract

Asbestos is able to withstand water, acid and chemicals, and is tasteless and odourless.

Asbestos fibres can end up in your respiratory system and cause lung disease. Below is an overview of a number of illnesses:

  • Pleural plaques (thickening of the chest and lung membranes, impedes breathing)
  • Asbestosis or pneumoconiosis (lung damage, reduced oxygen intake, risk of heart problems due to decreased lung function)
  • Mesothelioma (cancer affecting the membranes in the chest cavity – caused by needle-like fibres)
  • Asbestos-related lung cancer (tumours in the lungs)

Non-bonded respirable fibres (small fibres) represent the greatest risk. When you encounter asbestos, immediately halt your work and report this to your supervisor.

White (Chrysotile)
Brown (Amosite)