Frequently asked questions about Asbestos

Origin and Properties of Asbestos

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a term for a group of natural minerals that can form extremely small fibres and needles.

Details can be found here ->

Why is Asbestos so dangerous?

The asbestos fibres and needles are so small that they can penetrate into the smallest alveoli and even into the lung tissue. They are difficult to repel and transport out of the body. The tissue can scar and even form cancer cells.

However, this requires very large quantities over long periods of time.

Why have Asbestos products been used in such huge amounts?

For a long time, asbestos was regarded as a miracle cure in fire protection because of its diverse properties and relatively inexpensive processing into such products.

Asbestos is fireproof, chemically extremely resistant, available in large quantities as a raw material and easy to process.

Legal, terms and limit values

Does the amount matter?

Theoretically, a single fiber can cause disease. Just like a glass of wine or a cigarette. However, this is extremely unlikely.

Unfortunately, no direct causal "immediate effect" can be determined or even predicted through exposure to asbestos. This is only possible by probabilities.

The known asbestos diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma are late consequences of an extremely high dose load due to asbestos fibres. One speaks here of orders of magnitude of millions or billions of fibers per m3 of breathing air, which one must inhale many hours daily over many years. The unit of exposure is given in so-called fibre years.

Which limit values exist?

The detection limit for asbestos fibres in air is about 100 fibres per m3 of breathing air.
This also corresponds to the approximate background load, i.e. fibres flying freely in the air.

Everything below 500 - 1000 fibres / m3 is considered harmless. The workplace limits for working with asbestos products are:

  • Acceptance threshold < 10000 fibres / m3
  • Tolerance threshold < 100000 fibers / m3

However, these values relate to work with products containing asbestos and already require protective measures.

Details about limit values and the measurement can be found here ->

Are deseases caused by asbestos exposure accepted as occupational diseases?

Yes.

However, only from an exposure of 25 fibre years. You must prove that you have been exposed to an exposure of more than 1 million fibres / m3 per hour for more than 8 hours per working day for more than 25 years.

What is a fibre year?

One fiber year is the drawing for a load of more than 1 million fibers / m3 of breathing air over 8 hours daily with at least 240 working days per year.

What are DR

DRM means Deconstruction, refurbishment and maintenance.

Details can be found here ->

Is it true that installed asbestos products are "protected"?

Yes, that's right.

However, only as long as the regular life cycle has not expired, the products are undamaged and cannot pose any risk.

Details can be found here ->

What is the regular life cycle?

Good question!

The term life cycle comes from the REACH regulation. Unfortunately the term is not clearly defined. Strictly speaking, the life cycle exists as long as a product is used. Thus the actual life cycle is only known after the end of use. Surprise!

Questions and answers to the asbestos cadastre