Seasonal, heavy rainfall and widespread flooding have been all too-familiar news stories around the UK in recent years. Aside from the widespread devastation caused to an entire town population and its’ infrastructure by the flooding itself, the aftermath from the damage caused can be equally life threatening when the clean up begins.

Many properties in some regions of the UK, which were built with or contain asbestos materials, would have been seriously damaged, releasing high volumes of deadly, toxic asbestos fibres into the air. Once the asbestos fibres have become airborne and are inhaled into the lungs and surrounding pleural cavities, there is a serious risk of fatal asbestos related diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis developing over a long period of time.

The advances in public asbestos awareness today mean it is all too well known that 15 – 40 years can pass before the first symptoms appear. All too often diagnosis occurs at a very late stage and the unfortunate victim will not survive much beyond 6 – 12 months, leaving the issue of a legitimate mesothelioma claim with immediate family to pursue with an asbestosis lawyer.

Through out the 20th century and up until asbestos use was banned by the 1980s, the material was used extensively in the construction industry as a cheap source of insulation. A majority of residential housing was built with asbestos-containing materials for pipe insulation, acoustic plaster, cement, joint compounds, masonry fill, sheetrock, siding, shingles, floor tiles, and more. Although not easy to identify without laboratory testing, it is generally understood that if a home was built prior to the late 1970s, early 1980s, it be should assumed that it contains asbestos building materials to some degree.

If the structure of a home or other building is already partially destroyed by flooding, the site should be secured and contained and an authorised and licensed asbestos abatement contractor immediately contacted to remove any asbestos-containing materials from the debris. It should be advised in the strongest terms that choosing to clear the possible hazardous debris oneself for reasons of cost is an extremely dangerous decision and fatal in the long term.

Once the water level has receded and flood victims return to their home or business, extra care must be taken when rebuilding or renovating their premises. Once asbestos is disturbed, the tiny fibres can float in the air for several weeks and when a flood occurs, the fibres can also travel through water and dry out when water subsides.

Public, industrial, and commercial sites, which may be a higher source of asbestos contamination, such as shipyards, schools, power plants, and car assembly should be avoided completely. Even nearby communities which have experienced flooding can result in released asbestos fibres drifting in the air and causing a real hazard of exposure in your area.