The UK Asbestos Training Association (UKATA) is issuing a stark warning to the public not to throw items containing the deadly toxin asbestos on to bonfires this November. Asbestos is a dangerous substance which could put your family and friends at risk.
Until its UK usage ban in 1999 asbestos was widely used for a range of purposes including everyday products, such as textiles, and building materials. These materials should always be disposed of safely by a professional. Whilst asbestos itself is not flammable the smoke can carry asbestos particles and pose a very real risk to anyone standing close by, or downwind of the fumes.
“Asbestos often looks harmless and it’s not always easy for the untrained eye to recognise,” explains Craig Evans, General Manager of UKATA. “People unwittingly inhaling the smoke containing asbestos fibres, may never know the danger they are in until years down the line when they contract a potentially fatal asbestos related disease. Even if you are burning things from your own home, be very sure you know what the material is composed of before doing so.”
Whilst the dangers of fireworks are well-publicised around this time of year, it should be noted that asbestos is extremely dangerous if not handled correctly. This toxic material is still the biggest killer in the UK workplace. The effect of diseases relating to asbestos can take over 20 years to develop and there is no cure.
“Many believe asbestos to be an historical problem,” says Craig, “Sadly this misconception contributes to the deaths of those who unknowingly come into contact with a substance, which still poses a very real risk to public health.”
Over 5,000 people still die every year as a result of breathing in asbestos fibres. The toxic substance can lead to a number of different serious diseases, and anyone inhaling the fumes from a burning piece of asbestos will be put at risk.
“The message is a simple one,” says Craig. “Make sure you know what you’re putting on your bonfire. More and more unscrupulous individuals and businesses are illegally disposing of asbestos. It is an irresponsible and illegal way to save money and it creates a big risk to public health if people burn unknown materials on their bonfires.”