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The History of Asbestos

Wondering how asbestos became so widely used for so many things? It has incredible heat-resisting properties and can be woven, making it useful for so many applications, as well as it being a naturally sourced material.

Asbestos - the ‘miracle mineral’

The word Asbestos comes from the word Greek ‘Sasbestos’, which translates to ‘Inextinguishable’.


Ancient uses of asbestos

In the years 2000-3000 B.C, asbestos was used to embalm Egyptian Pharoah’s bodies to avoid deterioration. In 2500 B.C., clay pots found from Finland contained asbestos fibres. The ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians were known to use asbestos for many uses and it was also reported that the slaves that used the material ended up with “sickness of the lungs”. In the Middle Ages, it was used for it’s fire retardant properties and also used to aid war battles.

Industrialisation of asbestos

Common manufacturing did not begin until the late 1800s, alongside the Industrial Revolution. Asbestos then became a commonly used material and was heavily mined, without the detrimental health implications being known. In 1878 the first American commercial mine was opened in Quebec.

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Known Killer

The first recorded case of asbestosis was in 1924, a British woman called Nellie Kershaw dies due to asbestos exposure. Astoundingly, asbestos was continued to be produced and marketed as a wonder material. The Second World War then came in to play, and asbestos was used for construction and building ships due to it’s strong and heat-resistant properties. The factory owners knew of this danger to the worker’s health, but this did not stop them continuing to run the production.

Law suits

In the 1970’s, the connection between asbestos exposure and lung diseases became undeniable, as many war veterans had now developed the disease. In 1973, the first major lawsuit claiming damages from asbestos manufacturers was won by an insulation worker. This then spurred on thousands more lawsuits to be filed.

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UK Bans Asbestos

In the year 1999, the law is passed to ban all asbestos containing materials completely. To this day, it is still present in many homes & public buildings, and this will be the case for many more years.

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Asbestos Removal Services

At e4 Environmental we offer a range of services. These are categorised into four main areas, and we can offer advice on any aspect of Asbestos Removal and Encapsulation. Click...

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About e4 Environmental - Fully Licensed Asbestos Removal Company

At e4 Environmental we are experts in all methods of removing and encapsulating hazardous asbestos materials in a safe and regulated manner. We are working in our 12th year as...


Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the most common questions we get asked are answered below for you! For further information give us a...

Q: What should I do if I find asbestos?

Before removals can take place, the type of asbestos needs to be identified with an independent surveyor to determine the exact properties. Never attempt to remove it yourself, and call a professional such as ourselves. If it is in bad condition it may be treated as an urgent matter.

Q: Why do some works have to be notified to the HSE?

In order to protect all members of the public from any unnecessary asbestos fibre exposure, the HSE requires certain types of works to be notified to them at least 14 days in advance in order to regulate and control the removal procedures. These types of works include certain fibres and ACM’s, and these works may only be done by licensed contractors. For more about the HSE process, head to their website.

Q: What area do you carry out works?

We are based in Sheffield but travel all across the UK, and have even been known to travel to Africa for jobs! There is no limit to our service area so please give us a call. See detailed examples of our asbestos removal works in Sheffield, Manchester, and Cirencester to name a few.

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