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About Asbestos

Major industrial use of asbestos goes way back to the 19th century. Its versatility combined with its cheapness and readily available stocks led to several thousand uses within industries.

Evidence that fibrotic lung disease caused by exposure to asbestos fibres was first noted in the 19th century and became more widely recognised within the first 30 years of the 20th century. This led to insurance policies for some asbestos exposed workers no longer being written. In the 1940's Hueper believed that asbestos could be properly addressed as an occupational lung carcinogen.

Despite this knowledge, the banning on the import of asbestos in Britain did not take effect until 1985, and even then it was only brown (Amosite) and blue (Crocidolite) that was banned. White asbestos (Chrysotile) was eventually banned in November 1999. All forms of asbestos are still evident in many older properties and products.

Asbestos was called the "magic mineral" because its unique chemical composition coupled with its physical properties made it so versatile. It was suitable for use in thousands of products ranging from floor tiles to fireproof doors, from pipe insulation to brake and clutch linings. Asbestos fibres can withstand fierce heat but are so soft and flexible that they can be spun and woven as easily as cotton. The term asbestos is derived from a Greek word meaning "inextinguishable, unquenchable or inconsumable".

Types of Asbestos

CHRYSOTILE

Also known as white asbestos

AMOSITE

Also known as brown asbestos

CROCIDOLITE

Also known as blue asbestos

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Asbestos in Context

Halton Asbestos Action Campaign (Now Cheshire Asbestos Victims Support Group), were instrumental in bringing about the first prosecution under the new Health and Safety Executive Laws governing the use of asbestos. Despite resistance, we pressurised Mark Carlisle MP and the Health and Safety Executive into taking action.

On the 16th January 1985, Warrington Magistrates imposed MAXIMUM fines totalling £4000 on a demolition firm, which admitted two offences under the Asbestos Licensing Regulations.

Brown and Mason of Sandwich Kent was the first firm to be prosecuted by Merseyside & Cheshire Area of the Health & Safety Executive and among the first in the country, under the new regulations.

Diseases and Conditions

The are many conditions and Diseases that develop due to the exposes to asbestos. Click on the button below to find out more.