Asbestos is a naturally occurring material that has fire-resisting properties as well as resistance to alkalis and acids. As a result, it was widely used within the construction and other industries from the 1930s until the1970s. Its use in textiles and for pottery goes back much further – some 4,500 years. During the twentieth century, it became increasingly apparent that asbestos presented a health hazard to humans. The first diagnosis of asbestosis – an asbestos-related lung disease – was made in 1924 and the first asbestos-related laws were enacted in 1931. Unfortunately, although there was increasing evidence of its danger to health, asbestos component manufacturers chose to ignore this. In the 1940s, some 3,000 products made use of asbestos ranging from brake linings to cosmetics. Asbestos was used in many materials and components that were commonly used in both residential and commercial buildings throughout the twentieth century. Some 5.3 million tonnes of asbestos were imported into the UK between 1940 and 1998 and its use was not totally banned until 1999 and only stopped completely in 2005. Asbestos can be found in many materials and components that were installed in residential property before 1999. They include: • linings for walls, ceilings and doors – often called asbestos insulating board (AIB) – a high hazard

buildings – banned in 1986 • some paints • roofing slates and profiled roofing sheets. The important point to note is that any building constructed before the year 2000 is likely to have some components that contain asbestos. Some experts feel that there are very few buildings constructed before as recently as 2005 that do not contain asbestos.