Construction materials that can affect health

Every day there are more people concerned about health, not only in the sense of not being sick but also in improving one's good health. If we add to this that city dwellers spend up to 90% of their time inside a building, it is logical to worry about how a building can affect health.
Among the materials used in construction that can negatively affect people's health, the best-known one is asbestos; but there are others like creosote or lead that are also harmful.

Asbestos, when crumbled, acquires a fibrous form that can harm our health in two ways: in contact with the skin, incrustations can occur in the epidermis that can cause skin warts, but without a doubt, the most severe damage occurs when inhaling fibres, as it can cause asbestosis or different types of cancer.

There are several types of products that use asbestos; the most common are corrugated plates to make roofs, water tanks, pipes... Since 2001, the marketing of asbestos products has been banned in Spain, but they are present in many buildings built before that date. The European Union has set the year 2028 for all these materials with asbestos to be eliminated from buildings.

Creosote is a material used to protect wood that is exposed to the elements from bacteria and fungi. Some of the compounds that were used do not break down easily and can cause skin problems on prolonged contact. A classic example of its use was on railways. Its use has been prohibited in Spain since 2003. One of its main problems is that it is dangerous to burn the wood treated with this material since the smoke is highly polluting for the environment and dangerous for health.

Lead was used in the 1970s in water conduction pipes and, as water is used for human consumption, it causes lead to end up in our body and can cause neurological problems. Little by little, the lead pipes were replaced, so they are currently challenging to find, although one also has to be careful with copper pipes that can be soldered with lead.


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