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The Environmental Impact of Asbestos



Once hailed as a miracle material in construction and building, asbestos was celebrated for its fire-resistant and insulating properties; it was seen as a hero and quickly became widely used across the globe in various industries. From clothing to engine parts, candles and more, asbestos touched the lives of many. However, as we've come to understand the devastating health implications for humans, causing globe-wide bans on the utilisation of this toxic fibre, there is another component to the asbestos problem - the environment. Asbestos Removals Marlborough explore the impact asbestos has on our direct environment. 

 

Beyond its immediate threat to human health, asbestos poses a grave danger to our planet's ecosystems and natural resources. With so much emphasis on the devastating effects this toxic material has on the health of humans, we tend to look over the impact it can have on our ecosystems and earth.  

 

Asbestos is notorious for its endurance in our environment. Once the tiny fibres are released into the air, water, or soil, they can linger for extended periods, refusing to break down quickly. This persistence poses a long-term threat to the environment, affecting both wildlife and aquatic ecosystems.  

 

Two types of asbestos are known to cause contamination. 

  1. Friable Asbestos – which can easily crumble into a powder form and contaminate the environment quickly. Friable can be pulverised by hand and cause a host of contamination issues. 

  2. Non-Friable Asbestos – the lesser of the two evils, non-friable asbestos is typically mixed with other hard materials such as concrete, making it less likely to crumble to power. 

 

Asbestos In The Air 

One of the primary concerns surrounding asbestos is its ability to become airborne. Construction activities, natural weathering, and human disturbances can release asbestos fibres into the air, where wind can carry them over long distances. These airborne fibres can settle in soil and water, contaminating ecosystems far from their source. Understandably, ensuring airborne asbestos is contained is very important to protect those working around construction zones and our immediate environment. 

 

Sadly, most contamination is caused by accidental disturbance during construction or renovations. Ensuring you get an asbestos safety check before undergoing any building work can help prevent this problem. 

 

Asbestos Soil Contamination 

Asbestos fibres, when deposited in soil, can disrupt the delicate balance of ecosystems. Soil contaminated with asbestos may negatively impact plant life, hindering growth and potentially entering the food chain. The consequences of asbestos-contaminated soil extend beyond immediate vegetation, affecting the overall biodiversity of an area. Friable asbestos is most at risk of contaminating soils.  

 

Asbestos Water Contamination 

Asbestos can find its way into water sources through various means, such as erosion, runoff from construction sites, or the breakdown of asbestos-containing materials over time. Once in the water, asbestos fibres can pose a threat to aquatic life, with potential consequences for fish, marine life, and the overall health of aquatic ecosystems. 

 

Asbestos Impact on Wildlife 

The environmental impact of asbestos extends to our vast and beautiful wildlife, as animals may inadvertently ingest or come into contact with contaminated materials. The consequences for wildlife health are still an emerging area of research, but there are concerns within the industry about the potential harm caused by asbestos exposure in various species. 

 

Asbestos in Urban Areas 

Urban environments, particularly those with aging infrastructure, often bear the brunt of asbestos-related issues. The risk of exposure can be high as the world scrambles to remove this toxic fibre from our buildings, such as schools, offices and homes. Asbestos-containing buildings and infrastructure, if not adequately maintained or demolished, can release significant amounts of asbestos into the surroundings, affecting both urban ecosystems and the health of residents. Natural disasters such as flooding and fires can also cause asbestos to become dislodged and pose and environmental issue. 

 

Addressing the environmental impact of asbestos requires comprehensive planning and safe removal efforts. Strict regulations on asbestos removal, safe disposal practices, and promoting awareness about the risks are crucial to minimising further environmental damage. Understanding and education are vital to reducing asbestos's impact on our population and planet. Correct identification and professional removal can alleviate many of these concerns.   

 

As we confront the consequences of asbestos usage worldwide, it is essential to recognise its far-reaching effects on the environment. Through sustained efforts in regulation, awareness, and responsible handling, we can hugely reduce the environmental impact of asbestos and work towards a safer, healthier future – for all of the life on earth. The silent menace may have left an indelible mark, but our commitment to environmental care can pave the way for a cleaner, asbestos-free world. 

 

Before you demolish any construction, even in a basic renovation, it is highly recommended to seek professional advice from a trained asbestos handler to ensure you limit any dangers to your family and the environment.  

 

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