The Science Behind Asbestos

Asbestos removal workers on site

The Science Behind Asbestos

Asbestos is one of those things that everyone has heard of, but many people don’t actually know what it is, what it looks like or how it can cause harm. So as experts in our trade here at Thompsons of Prudhoe, we thought we would uncover the science behind asbestos, and just how dangerous it can actually be.


What Is Asbestos?

In short, asbestos is a group of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals composed of thin, needle-like fibres. Asbestos used to be used in building materials – like cloth, paper, cement and plastic to make them stronger as pure asbestos acts as an effective insulator. However, it is incredibly dangerous is someone inhales or digests asbestos dust as the mineral fibres can become trapped in their body forever.


What Does Asbestos Look Like?

The appearance of asbestos is similar to the way loft insulation looks – fuzzy and soft. Or sometimes it can be compressed into other materials and therefore a lot harder to detect!


The Dangers Of Asbestos…

If asbestos is inhaled or ingested then the risk of developing health issues such as lung cancer, tumours and skin conditions are extremely heightened.


Did you know that more than 100,000 people worldwide die each year from occupational exposure to asbestos? As reported by the World Health Organisation, with upper estimates closer to a quarter of a million, and the number in the UK is around 5,000.  This number does however appear to be falling but it is important to still be aware of the implications asbestos can have and why it is important to remove asbestos infected areas.


What Types Of Asbestos Are There?

There are typically three main types of asbestos and here is how to identify each one:


– Chrysotile (white asbestos) –

The most common type of asbestos is chrysotile, it is often contaminated with trace amounts of tremolite. Chrysotile fibres are usually very fine in texture and possess high flexibility and good heat resistant properties, making it ideal to use in cement, brake pads/linings and roofing materials.


– Amosite (brown asbestos) –

Amosite is strong and heat-resistant, and it is commonly used in cement, plumbing insulation and electrical insulation. Though all types of asbestos are toxic – amosite asbestos exposure has a comparatively higher cancer risk.


– Crocidolite (blue asbestos) –

Crocidolite has very thin fibres and if inhaled can be easily lodged in the lungs. It’s thin fibres and brittle nature make for crocidolite to be one of the most harmful forms of asbestos, as it breaks down easily and leads to asbestos exposure.


How To Tell If Asbestos Is Present In Your Workplace…

It is extremely hard to detect if asbestos is present in your work or home environment as you can’t tell by sight, smell or colour of the material. The fibres are so small they actually compare to about 10 times smaller than the width of human hair. The only way you can tell if asbestos is present is by getting samples tested in a lab. If it turns out that asbestos is in fact present in your building then you MUST get it removed properly by industry professionals like ourselves here at Thompsons of Prudhoe.


Asbestos Removal With Thompsons Of Prudhoe

Thompsons of Prudhoe are trained and licensed contractors who are experienced in the management of asbestos. Our team ensure that all types of asbestos we encounter are removed safely and effectively from our customers projects. We hold a full asbestos removal license issued by the Health & Safety Executive, demonstrating that our asbestos removal teams work to the highest possible standard within this highly regulated area of industry.



Contact Us Today…


Here at Thompsons of Prudhoe, we have a wide range of Case Studies available on our website where you can view the most recent jobs we have completed or are in the process of completing. In our Projects section on our website we have a variety of asbestos removal case studies, this is where you can learn a bit more about the process and what clients we have worked with to safely remove asbestos from clients sites – ensuring safety is at the forefront of our minds.

If you would like any further information about any of our services, then please don’t hesitate to contact us, by giving us a call on (01661) 832 422 or write to us at and we will be able to talk you through our range of services and how we can help you! Whether it’s demolition or earthworks, we are long-standing members of the National Federation of Demolition Contractors (NFDC) and the Asbestos Removal Contactor’s Association (ARCA).