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The risks of asbestos in a fire

Most people are aware of asbestos. It’s a nasty material, which can get into the circulatory system of anyone who comes into contact with it, and it will sit undetected for years before eventually causing a range of problems inside the circulatory system. However, it may not be known to some people that there are massive risks with regards to asbestos coming into contact with fire. But what are these risks?

Asbestos and fire – what do you need to know?

The biggest and most prominent risk that is to do with fire and asbestos is the structural integrity, which is at risk in older buildings. For those who were not aware, asbestos was once used a building material due to being very durable and heat resistant, making it suitable for support beams and the main framework of a building. This makes it a risk when the fire inside a building reaches a sufficient temperature, as the asbestos will start to crumble and fail, which could lead to the collapse of the building when the structural integrity fails.

However, this is only one of the major risks which asbestos creates when it is expressed to fire. The fibres from the material are toxic to humans and can sit undetected inside a circulatory system for decades before becoming an issue, which is very difficult to try and fix. What you’re dealing with during a fire is, in essence, the toxicity from the smoke of the fire coupled with the fibres of asbestos, with the risk of extreme damage to the lungs being a very real possibility. The fibres themselves are released when the fire dries up the asbestos, making it brittle and causing the material to break apart and drift into the air that you’re breathing in.

The biggest concern will be for those who are trapped in the blaze for an extended period, but also those who venture inside the building to try and fight the fire itself. Firemen are at a very pronounced risk of inhaling the fibres from asbestos, as they’ll often need to go inside the burning building to either put out the fires or rescue someone who is trapped, meaning they’re at risk time and again from asbestos. This is also further complicated by the extended period it takes for the asbestos itself to show signs of being present, with some people dying up to 15 years later from the fibres.

In conclusion, there are many risks, which are associated with fires and asbestos. The structural failings of an asbestos-infused building are cause enough for concern, and the danger is then magnified by the fact that there are extremely high chances that you’ll inhale the fibres in with the smoke while you’re inside the building while it is on fire. The biggest risk is to the firemen, who do have protective gear on, but there’s still a high chance that they can be infected with the spores and ultimately develop problems during later stages of their lives.

Rigorous training is required to safety handle and remove asbestos from any construction site. Click here to find out more about the in-depth training available from Health and Safety Training Courses.

Article courtesy of Acorn Analytical Services. If you would like to read more articles like this then please click here.