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Breakthrough technology in the battle against asbestos

08 March 2023

THERE ARE six million tonnes of asbestos spread across 1.5 million buildings in the UK, including up to 80% of schools and 94% of public buildings such as hospitals. Any building constructed or renovated before 1999 has the potential to contain asbestos.

Asbestos is still the number one cause of occupational deaths in the UK today, with over 5,000 recorded annually - despite the fact it has been banned in the UK since 1999. Shawcity is delighted to announce the biggest advancement in asbestos technology for decades with the Alert PRO 1000 from Alert Technology Ltd.

All types of asbestos contain fibres that, when they become airborne, can be inhaled and cause serious and fatal diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural thickening. These diseases do not affect individuals immediately and can take years to develop. However, by the time they are diagnosed, it is too late to take any preventative measures.

Undamaged, sealed materials are unlikely to release fibres and pose a minor risk. However, if asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) are disturbed or start to deteriorate, asbestos fibres can be released into the air and breathed in by workers and any other occupants. Buildings with a high level of activity and daily footfall have an increased risk of inadvertent damage and therefore accelerated deterioration.

Traditionally, asbestos surveying and detection has meant samples of suspected asbestos-containing materials being sent to laboratories for analysis or consultants collecting samples form site and performing a manual count of fibres. 

Collecting the sample itself involves a risk in terms of disturbing fibres and the exercise only reflects conditions at a single point in time. Until now, detecting airborne asbestos fibres in real time has not been possible.

However, a recent innovation in technology has enabled the development of the Alert PRO 1000 as an early warning device for airborne asbestos fibres. In development for over ten years with the goal of saving lives, Alert is portable and simple to use. It works alongside the traditional method and continuously assesses the airborne environment, providing a real-time alarm if ACMs have released toxic fibres into the air. This allows workers to evacuate the area and instigate safety procedures without delay. Alert’s time-stamped data also offers vital information to help teams identify what events or activities are leading to asbestos fibre releases.

This vital early warning enables an immediate and proactive safety response helping to prevent the risk of prolonged exposure. Alert is the only known device capable of distinguishing asbestos fibres from other non-asbestos fibres in the air in real-time and uses patented light scattering technology, the paramagnetic properties of asbestos fibres and a complex algorithmic statistical analysis that works to a 99% confidence level.

Alert PRO 1000 is most suitable for use in ambient indoor environments where the fabric of a structure will be disturbed through works such as maintenance, construction, restoration, improvements and demolition. Alert PRO can be deployed in a specific vicinity to demonstrate any airborne asbestos is being contained. It is ideal for monitoring the area around a decontamination or exclusion zone or at a perimeter, for example, and the alarm will activate if any airborne asbestos is present.

Designed to improve safety and reduce operational costs and liability, Alert PRO is suitable for more than 30 global industry sector applications worldwide. Successfully able to identify any type of asbestos, the unit is easy to install and use with no specialist training required.

The Alert PRO 1000 has the potential to save lives in numerous global industry sectors, including:

  • Construction & Demolition
  • Asbestos Removal
  • Maintenance & Renovation
  • Waste Management
  • Occupational Hygiene
  • Emergency Services, Defence & Disaster Recovery
  • Tunnelling & Mining
  • Marine & Ship Decommissioning
  • Nuclear Decommissioning
  • Equipment Rental & Repair
  • Facilities Management.

Available to hire or buy from Shawcity, the Alert PRO 1000’s features include user configurable settings, an LED and audible alarm, LCD screen, 8GB onboard memory, 8-hour rechargeable battery, historical data, data download via USB, Alert Data Viewer platform for creating reports and a rugged, easy to decontaminate case. Upgrade to the Alert PRO 2000 model for cloud-based data.

For further information, click here. To request a free demonstration of this unique technology, contact Shawcity on 01367 899419 or email: solutions@shawcity.co.uk.