What is the origin of asbestos?

It is commonly known that asbestos is a dangerous mineral fibre and exposure to asbestos fibre can lead to various serious effects on health. Prolonged exposure is the leading contributor to developing mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Whilst we know of its risks, not many will be aware of where asbestos originates from.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous silicate mineral that is found in rock strata / seams, similar to gold or coal seams. There are six types of asbestos, all of which are composed of long and thin fibrous crystals, each fibre being composed of many microscopic "fibrils" that can be released into the atmosphere by abrasion and other processes.

To be able to use the asbestos fibres in the manufacture of construction products, they were released from the rock strata by mechanical processes and mixed with other material to create the products we commonly know about. Back in the 20th century, asbestos was widely used in industries such as construction, firefighting, military, shipbuilding and many more sectors and therefore asbestos products are widespread still and require careful asbestos management and then asbestos compliance.

Many deaths have been associated with asbestos exposure, especially in the construction industry where the use of the material was normal practice. It was many years until the material was banned from use in the UK in 1999.


With asbestos being present in rocks and soil, the material was mined all around the world in countries such as the USA, South Africa, Italy, Australia and Russia among many others. The mining of asbestos is still taking place in some countries around the world and the mined mineral is still used in many countries. That said, there is an outright ban on asbestos products and use in over 60 countries due to its documented and recognised serious health hazards.

Common asbestos products

Before the material was banned, the production of asbestos was present in many products in both industrial and commercial industries.

Everything from plumbing, electrical, construction, power generation, automotive, oil and gas industries have dealt with asbestos. Asbestos exposure tends to occur today in the case of demolition, renovation or extension work in a building when the material is disturbed.

Asbestos could be present in flooring, ceilings, adhesives, coatings and pipes among many other areas. A professional in asbestos testing is required to complete an asbestos survey any property built pre-2000 that is to undergo refurbishment or demolition.

There is also a requirement laid out in UK law that states that all non-domestic premises should have an asbestos management survey in place. These are now very commonplace but there are also many buildings and building owners that have not complied with this and do not have an asbestos survey in place.

Contact the team at Grosvenor Asbestos Solutions today for professional advice on getting an asbestos survey of your property.


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