The UK Asbestos Training Association has warned of the dangers the 'hidden killer' can pose ahead of Bonfire Night.
An increase in fly tipping has followed the economic downturn and some unscrupulous companies have resorted to dumping asbestos waste illegally, UKATA reported amid fears that people will unknowingly pick up asbestos and throw it on the bonfire, with potentially fatal consequences.
Vice Chairman of UKATA Dave Nichol said: "While all the warnings focus on the dangers of fireworks, asbestos remains the biggest killer in the UK workplace. The effect of diseases relating to asbestos can take over 20 years to develop and there is no cure."
Many believe asbestos to be an historical problem however the Association say this misconception contributes to the deaths of those who unknowingly come into contact with a substance that "still poses a very real risk to public health".
Range of risks from burning asbestos
Over 4,500 people still die every year as a result of breathing in asbestos fibres. The toxic substance can also lead to a number of different serious diseases and anyone inhaling the fumes from a burning piece of asbestos will be put at risk.
Nichol added: "Make sure you know what you’re putting on your Bonfire. More and more unscrupulous individuals and businesses are illegally disposing of Asbestos.
"It is an irresponsible and illegal way to save money and it creates a big health risk to public health if people burn unknown materials on their Bonfires. Even if you are burning things from your own home, be very sure you know what the materials is composed of before doing so."
People are affected by asbestos when they breathe in fibres from the material which have become air borne.
Although asbestos itself is not actually flammable and will not burn easily on the bonfire, the fire can carry the asbestos particles in the smoke and pose a very real risk to anyone standing close by or downwind of the fumes.