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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

Asbestos removal comes in many forms. These are categorised into four main areas, and we offer free advice on any aspect of Asbestos Removal and Encapsulation. Click on the service...

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About e4 Environmental - Fully Licensed Asbestos Removal Company

Founded in 2006, we help people like you to remove asbestos in a regulated and safe manner. HSE certified, we are a fully-licensed asbestos removal contractor.


Frequently Asked Questions

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

Q: How will the quote be compiled for asbestos removal?

As each case is unique to the next, our dedicated Contracts Managers take into consideration lots of factors and this will be decided upon an initial phone call and a site visit. They gather as much information as possible and price accordingly and will give you an appropriate timescale for the works with this quote.

Q: How many types of asbestos are there?

Asbestos has two sub-categories; Serpentine and Amphibole, defined by their difference in fibre qualities. In the Serpentine category is Chrysotile (also known as White asbestos) with S-shaped fibres. In the Amphibole category is; Crocidolite (Blue asbestos), Amosite (Brown asbestos) and also lesser-known Anthophyllite, Tremolite and Actinolite, all with straight fibres. To learn more about the history of asbestos, read our blog

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.

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