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Author Asbestos - hazard underground
SimonRL

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Joined: 27/11/2005
Location: North Wales

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Asbestos - hazard underground
Posted: 23/07/2010 10:53:08
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Split from the asbestos mining thread:

Peter Burgess wrote:

I do wonder sometimes how many of us have put ourselves at risk messing about with old engines and boilers without realising it. Sad


What are people's opinions of how much of a hazard this presents when exploring underground. Is it likely most mine explorers will encounter it at some point? Pipe lagging, machinery etc.. Obviously more applicable to certain types of installation and possibly to certain areas of the country where now abandonned mines might have been re-used for storage at some point.
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Peter Burgess

Joined: 01/07/2008
Location: Merstham. Or is it Godstone ...... ?

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Asbestos - hazard underground
Posted: 23/07/2010 11:20:36
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I actually was thinking of surface activities, but of course it equally applies underground. I was thinking of stuff like restoration of mine sites where boilers and engines were sited (engine houses), or restoration of actual boilers and engines such as has been done by a number of mining groups.

--

Hé ! Ki kapcsolva le a villanyt ?
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ttxela

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Asbestos - hazard underground
Posted: 23/07/2010 11:28:40
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I would have thought some of the Sub-Brit chaps with their bunkers and underground telephone exchanges and the like will come across more than in most mines?

Reduces the risk if everythings wet as well of course.
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Morlock

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Asbestos - hazard underground
Posted: 23/07/2010 13:32:05
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ttxela wrote:

Reduces the risk if everythings wet as well of course.


I remember saying that to an 'Asbestos Specialist' in Watford many years ago, his reply was interesting.
What it all boiled down to was that members of the public who explored or walked their dogs etc on the site all took more offsite/home when it was wet!
IP: 86.31.218.5 Edited: 23/07/2010 13:33:27 by Morlock
ICLOK

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Asbestos - hazard underground
Posted: 23/07/2010 21:01:27
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Be under no illusion, if the asbestos is present even in the soil as witnessed in former steam and diesel loco scrapyards it is as lethal if its dry as any where else!!! If its wet it cant give off fibres...

--

We must perform a Quirkafleeg
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ah147

Joined: 09/10/2013

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Asbestos - hazard underground
Posted: 10/10/2013 01:14:35
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Hi All,

Had to click on this as I'm actually an MD of an asbestos removal/surveying company.

I shall quickly explain my personal views on the subject, anyone interested enough for further reading (believe me, you'd have to be very interested) online versions of CAR2012 and HSG264 are available, and can PM a link to anyone interested.

For the purposes of this discussion there's 2 types of asbestos:

1. Bonded
2. Fibrous

Bonded asbestos is called bonded asbestos as the asbestos fibres are bonded firmly into the matrix of the product. For example, asbestos cement shed roofs were made by mixing portland cement with asbestos. As such, to release any discernible amount of fibres from the material it would require really grinding up/power sawing etc.

Fibrous asbestos is asbestos that is not firmly bonded into a matrix. This is stuff that gets nasty. Pipe lagging, boiler lagging and Asbestos Insulation Board (AIB) are the most common forms of this type of asbestos. These are also "the most dangerous" forms of asbestos.

I haven't been down many old mines, the local ones to me are mostly old peak lead mines and I've seen nothing of the sort down there. But I am aware of asbestos down 70s/80s coal mines and certainly on many, many, many surface sites for different mines/quarrys.

That said, fibrous asbestos products do not react well to wet environments. AIB if placed outside can literally disintegrate in rain, large clumps can fall off insulation. For this reason, I fail to see how much can still be in place underground.

That said, my lack of underground experience does count against me on that last comment.

So what can you do to protect yourself? Asbestos identification is incredibly complex, coming in hundreds of different forms. With over 40 years experience in my senior management team, not a week goes by where we do not see a product of a different variation to what we have seen before! Add to this, officially, not being able to tell the difference without looking under a microscope and you're starting to get an idea how complex it can be.

Asbestos however, if undisturbed, is completely harmless, so the simple answer to the underground explorer is just to say "Thats metal, I can touch that, thats wood, I can touch that, I don't know what that is, I'll leave it well alone"

Hope I've helped explain something, but I'm not very good with my words so any questions I'll do my best to respond.

Cheers

Ash
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TheBogieman

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Joined: 12/02/2013
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Asbestos - hazard underground
Posted: 10/10/2013 09:47:33
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Well said Ash (and welcome to the forum). I'm an engineer at a major, 45yr old power station and Asbestos is a BIG issue for us - we've been reducing the risk by replacing Asb with non-Asb lagging / jointing whenever we have to open something up that hasn't been touched for years (and costs us a fortune - as you well know for Asb removal...) but it's still all around us if you look carefully.

In the slate mines around N Wales that I've visited, I'd say the risk is negligible - haven't seen anything that would get me worried. The big worry in slate mines is the slate dust that gives rise to silicosis...

In some of the later metal mines where bits and bobs from the last working remain (1920's - 1960's/70's), there well may be Asb present - thinking perhaps Parc lead - airline jointing, old light fittings / switchgear.

There aren't many boilers or formerly lagged steam pipes around on the surface so there's one less worry (unless there's Asb in the soil / rubble around the old boiler houses from when the scrappies moved in...). However, there are still a few switchboards and fuse boxes around and the arc chutes and certain fuseboxes contain/ed asbestos so care IS needed not to disturb them.

BFN

Clive
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royfellows

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Joined: 13/06/2007
Location: Great Wyrley near Walsall

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Asbestos - hazard underground
Posted: 10/10/2013 10:31:15
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I don’t pretend to be anything of an expert but isn’t there two completely different chemical compounds both collectively named 'asbestos'.
As I understand it, one is an iron silicate variety 'amphiboles' which is the highly dangerous variety, while the other 'white asbestos' is a magnesium silicate chemically similar to talcum powder. This is what is commonly encountered as a bonding agent in plaster etc.
The trouble with all of the scares is that science becomes twisted, distorted, tweaked and resold to a gullible general public by those who capitalise on peoples ignorance of scientific fact.


--

Better a NAMHO delegate than an organiser, that way you just get the disappointments not the aggro. LOL
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ah147

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Asbestos - hazard underground
Posted: 10/10/2013 11:23:52
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Hi again,

I didn't think of switch gear. It is true the asbestos materials in switchgear are highly dangerous, literally consisting of a cloth woven from asbestos fibres, in the eyes of the HSE these are less dangerous than AIB and lagging. I'm my eyes even worse as they are very easily disturbed and have no non-asbestos components whatsoever to help stop them being disturbed.

That said, you normally have to dismantle them a fair bit to gain any sort of access to the ACM.

As for two types of asbestos, you're semi-correct. There's two groups but six types.

Hydrophilic
Chrysotile (white)

Amphibole
Grunerite (trade name amosite, also known as brown)
Crocidolite (blue)
Actinolite
Tremolite
Anthopholite (I've spelt this one wrong, it's very rare)


Whilst it is true that the three main types are white, brown and blue, it's also true that white is much less harmful than brown, and brown much less harmful than blue.

I'd liken it to getting hit by a car doin 50 and a lorry doing 50.

Both are going to kill you, but one will make more of a mess.

EDIT:

But on the subject of ignorance of scientific fact. A disease (mesothelioma, lung cancer etc) isn't considered to be asbestos caused unless upon autopsy over 6 million asbestos fibres are found to be present. The HSE do preach one fibre can kill you.

That said, a single pin being pushed into an AIB board can release upwards of 2000 fibres, so it's not particularly difficult to reach 6 million.

The jist of what I'm trying to say is prolonged exposure at high fibre levels are what kill you. Not a single touch.
IP: 213.205.229.84 Edited: 10/10/2013 11:29:20 by ah147
Tamarmole

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Asbestos - hazard underground
Posted: 10/10/2013 18:07:26
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So would I be right in thinking that the damp fragments of asbestos roofing sheets fly tipped into a shaft probably aren't a massive issue. IP: 86.152.215.181
ah147

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Asbestos - hazard underground
Posted: 10/10/2013 18:17:41
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I wouldnt honestly be worried about it massively myself.

If it was a local shaft to me and I came across it I'd have no issue in spending 5 minutes shifting it out of people's way, I would not remove it from the shaft though due to exorbitant tipping costs (£200 per tonne or part thereof on business rates)

DISCLAIMER: this would be my course of action in a recreational capacity as a cave/mine explorer, it is not intended as advice nor does it reflect on my companies practices which comply fully with current HSE regulations and guidance.
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royfellows

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Joined: 13/06/2007
Location: Great Wyrley near Walsall

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Asbestos - hazard underground
Posted: 10/10/2013 18:41:46
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Wearing the 'hat' so to speak as a recreational mine explorer, and not the 'hat' of someone in the disposal inductry, what is your honest opinion of "one fibre can kill"?

--

Better a NAMHO delegate than an organiser, that way you just get the disappointments not the aggro. LOL
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Roger L

Joined: 01/06/2010
Location: Huddersfield

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Asbestos - hazard underground
Posted: 10/10/2013 19:15:31
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One hair planted in the lung wall can aggravate the area which leads to your death. So the HSE say.
Nobody has yet picked up on glass fibres doing the same thing.
One of my bosses died of asbestosis which they put down to lagging pipes when he was an apprentice plumber.
In the early sixties as an apprentice joiner we used to use file tangs to score asbestos then snap it off for soffit boards.
When materials like Superlux came out this was asbestos free.


--

RL
IP: 213.104.65.129
ah147

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Asbestos - hazard underground
Posted: 10/10/2013 23:03:28
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As a personal opinion the one fibre can kill is dangly bits! As I said above, insurance and HSE don't consider it an asbestos related disease until there are 6 million fibres present on autopsy.

Whilst the HSE spin this line about 1 fibre can kill, the relevant regulations state a fibre level of 0.1f/ml as acceptable without RPE, or assuming no other exposure, 0.6f/ml for one hour per week.

So an average 6L lung capacity for an adult male with residual capacity of 1.5L assumes a 4.5L breath, at 40 breaths per minute you can inhale 6480 fibres per week and still comply with HSE regulation!


EDIT: The comment about supalux is interesting as when they first started using supalux they didn't clean the machines from when they produced asbestalux, resulting in the first several thousand boards of non-asbestos containing material containing asbestos!
IP: 31.82.40.120 Edited: 10/10/2013 23:06:24 by ah147
ttxela

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Asbestos - hazard underground
Posted: 11/10/2013 09:59:33
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I'm no expert but have had to deal with asbestos on a number of occasions, I had the whole "it only takes one fibre to kill you" thing explained to me in terms of a comparison to "it only takes one sperm to make a woman pregnant" whilst it is true that it may only be a single fibre that causes the problem exposure to one single fibre is extremely unlikely to result in a problem in much the same as exposure to one single sperm is very unlikely to get you pregnant!

Much the same as many other hazards I suppose.
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ah147

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Asbestos - hazard underground
Posted: 11/10/2013 10:13:51
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I'm not saying don't handle with care.

As said above a single pinprick can release upwards of 2000 fibres in AIB.

But the one fibre can kill theory is just not true. HSE regulations accept this (see my post on fibre levels above), insurance companies and HSE classification of asbestos related deaths accept this (see my posts above on 6 million fibres in the lungs).

On top of this, more diseases in the lungs are caused as asbestos is too small to get caught in the bodys defense mechanisms when you breath, so instead of getting caught in the nose/throat, they travel down to the lungs, where they stick in the walls, where they scar over, where another fibre sticks into the scar tissue, which scars over, which then another fibre sticks into, which scars over...repeat ad nauseum.
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TheBogieman

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Asbestos - hazard underground
Posted: 11/10/2013 10:34:37
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If you can count 'underground' as being in a ship's engineroom, I was a marine engineer to start with and in the late 60's when I started, we apprentices thought nothing of throwing asbestos lagging snowballs at each other when we were dismanting pipework for repair! Totally oblivious to the hazard... When at sea in the tropics, the ER skylights would be wide open and a shaft of sunlight would shine down to the bottom plates. What could you see swirling in the sunlight? Fibres of 'something'..!! Take it in deep breaths...

Ouch, I look at it all with horror now and they say it can take c.40yrs for mes to show. Ouch, I'm in that time-frame now. Not a thing I can do about it but pray. Crying
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Cuban Bloodhound

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Asbestos - hazard underground
Posted: 11/10/2013 12:04:27
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I normally post this up in asbestos threads, as although it relates to buildings it gives you an idea of what might contain asbestos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/asbestos_pix/ IP: 86.23.41.34
ah147

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Asbestos - hazard underground
Posted: 11/10/2013 12:49:07
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Trust me, it just doesn't stop what can possibly contain asbestos.

You can find it anywhere, you can look at a pipe lagged with MMMF which isn't asbestos, start tearing the pipes down and find 100% chrysotile paper.

As I mentioned above, with over 40 years experience in our senior management team, we come across something none of us have seen on a regular basis. I reiterate, if you are not SURE of what you're touching, i.e. definitely metal, definitely wood, don't.
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exspelio

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Asbestos - hazard underground
Posted: 11/10/2013 13:10:13
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The big issue with this local to me is the brake lining factory where they used to grind the stuff to shape it, a string of companies have taken over the place and every one of them has quibbled over their liability to past workers.

--

Always remember, nature is in charge, get it wrong and it is you who suffers!.
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