Safeway Environmental


Removing asbestos-containing material is a complex procedure and must only be done by a specialist contractor such as Safeway Environmental. Asbestos waste is hazardous and improper removal increases the risk of fibre inhalation. There are detailed rules about how the waste should be wrapped, labelled and disposed of.

If you think that a material may contain asbestos, or if you are arranging to have building work done on your home, you should get expert advice from a specialist asbestos monitoring/surveying company, to identify whether asbestos is present and assess the potential risk for fibres to be released and become airborne. You should never handle, disturb or remove asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) yourself. Asbestos-containing material does not always have to be removed and disposed of as waste. On occasion, it can be safer to maintain it rather than disturbing the ACM by removing it. This decision should be based on a risk assessment evaluation, carried out by a specialist. If ACM is to be repaired and maintained, this must be done safely. Any remaining material should be clearly labelled for asbestos and its location should be clearly marked on the plans of the building for future reference. Text courtesy of Citizens Information. For more visit

Principle Means of Contamination

The most common way for asbestos fibres to enter the body is through breathing secondarily through ingestion. In order for this to happen the asbestos containing material itself must be fractured or damaged allowing it to become airborne. It is accepted that asbestos-containing material is not generally considered to be harmful unless it is disturbed releasing fibres into the air where they can be inhaled or ingested. Many asbestos fibres depending on size will become trapped in the mucous membranes of the nose and throat where they can then be removed, but some may pass into the lungs, or, if swallowed, into the digestive tract. Asbestos is most hazardous when it is friable or non-bonded. The term "friable" means that the asbestos is easily crumbled by hand pressure, releasing fibres into the air. Some asbestos containing materials for example Sprayed on asbestos insulation and AIB are highly friable, whereas Asbestos floor tile and other bonded materials are not. Asbestos-containing laminated ceiling tiles, floor tiles, undamaged laboratory cabinet tops, shingles, fire doors, siding shingles, etc. will not release asbestos fibres unless they are disturbed or damaged in some way. If an asbestos ceiling tile is drilled or broken, for example, it may release fibres into the air. If it is left alone and not disturbed, it will not. Damage and deterioration will increase the friability of asbestos-containing materials. Water damage, continual vibration, aging, and physical impact such as drilling, grinding, buffing, cutting, sawing, or striking can break the materials down making fibre release more likely.

Health Effects

The body cannot break down or remove asbestos fibres once they are lodged in the lung or other body tissues. The fibres remain in place where they can cause disease over varied periods known as defined latency periods. There are three primary diseases associated with asbestos exposure:

● Asbestosis

● Lung Cancer

● Mesothelioma


Asbestosis is a serious, chronic, non-cancerous respiratory disease. Inhaled asbestos fibres aggravate lung tissues, which cause them to scar. Symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath and a dry crackling sound in the lungs while inhaling. In its advanced stages, the disease may cause cardiac failure. There is no effective treatment for asbestosis; the disease is usually disabling or fatal. The risk of asbestosis is minimal for those who do not work with asbestos; the disease is rarely caused by neighborhood or family exposure. Those who renovate or demolish buildings that contain asbestos may be at significant risk, depending on the nature of the exposure and PPE AND RPE precautions taken.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer causes the largest number of deaths related to asbestos exposure. The incidence of lung cancer in people who are directly involved in the mining, milling, manufacturing and use of asbestos and its products is much higher than in the general population. The most common symptoms of lung cancer are coughing and a change in breathing. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, persistent chest pains, hoarseness, and anemia. People who have been exposed to asbestos and are also exposed to some other carcinogen, such as cigarette smoke, have a significantly greater risk of developing lung cancer than people who have only been exposed to asbestos. One study found that asbestos workers who smoke are about 90 times more likely to develop lung cancer than people who neither smoke nor have been exposed to asbestos.


Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that most often occurs in the thin membrane lining of the lungs, chest, abdomen, and (rarely) heart. About 2,500 Mesothelioma sufferers die each year in the United States. An average of 24 people in Ireland die from Mesothelioma each year but rates are rising and are predicted to hit 68 deaths in 2020 (Source: Ireland's National Cancer Registry). Virtually all cases of mesothelioma are linked with asbestos exposure. Approximately 2 percent of all miners and textile workers who work with asbestos, and 10 percent of all workers who were involved in the manufacture of asbestos-containing gas masks, contracted mesothelioma. For more visit

People who worked in asbestos mines, asbestos mills and factories, and shipyards that used asbestos, as well as people who manufactured and installed asbestos insulation, have an increased risk of mesothelioma. So do people who live with asbestos workers, near asbestos mining areas, near asbestos product factories or near shipyards where the use of asbestos has produced large quantities of airborne asbestos fibres. Other Cancers Evidence suggests that other cancers in the esophagus, larynx, oral cavity, stomach, colon and kidney may be caused by ingesting asbestos. For more information on asbestos-related cancers, contact The Irish Cancer Society on 1800 200 700 or visit

Determining Factors

Three things seem to determine your likelihood of developing one of these asbestos related diseases:

1. The amount and duration of exposure

The more you are exposed to asbestos and the more fibres that enter your body, the more likely you are to develop asbestos related problems. While there is no "safe level" of asbestos exposure, people who are exposed more frequently over a long period of time are more at risk.

2. Whether or not you smoke

If you smoke and you have been exposed to asbestos, you are far more likely to develop lung cancer than someone who does not smoke and who has not been exposed to asbestos. If you work with asbestos or have been exposed to it, the first thing you should do to reduce your chances of developing cancer is to stop smoking.

3. Age

Cases of mesothelioma have occurred in the children of asbestos workers whose only exposures were from the dust brought home on the clothing of family members who worked with asbestos. The younger people are when they inhale asbestos, the more likely they are to develop mesothelioma. This is why enormous efforts are being made to prevent school children from being exposed. Because each exposure to asbestos increases the body burden of asbestos fibres, it is very important to reduce and minimize your exposure.