Asbestos has been used for thousands of years, but a large-scale use of asbestos did not originate until the 1880s when asbestos was used in textiles and various insulation products. In the 1900s asbestos was used in a variety of products, including different building materials.
That asbestos exposure might increase the risk for cancer have been known for a long time, both lung cancer and mesothelioma. Thus, in the late 1970s, a ban on using asbestos was introduced in certain building materials. In 1980 there was a ban on using asbestos in all building materials, but asbestos-containing building materials may have been used later. Asbestos was used longer in other industries: in the automotive industry, it was used up to the mid 90s and in the boat industry until 2005.
Although asbestos in building materials has been banned for more than 30 years, it is still estimated that more than a hundred people dies in Norway every year due to cancer caused by asbestos exposure. It is not expected that this figure will decline as occupational exposure to asbestos still appears, especially during demolition and rehabilitation work.
STAMI is now starting a project to map exposure to asbestos by demolition and renovation of buildings containing asbestos. We also want to investigate exposure during building fire where asbestos has been used. In the project, we will also test different methods of analysis for asbestos fibers to investigate the presence of thin asbestos fibers and look at the occurrence of the different asbestos types.
Project leader: Pål Graff. More information about the project is to be found on the Norwegian project page.