Asbestos, “an extremely dangerous, highly heat-resistant, fibrous silicate mineral that can be woven into fabrics, and is used in brake linings and in fire-resistant and insulating materials“. Not the kind of thing I expected to be writing about in a gardening blog.

I first became aware of asbestos as a child growing up in West Yorkshire and hearing about the tragedy of the workers of Cape Asbestos at Acre Mill in the beautiful countryside above Hebden Bridge.

It next came to my attention a few months ago when we went to view the 1930’s bungalow which had a derelict asbestos garage in the garden.

As the bungalow is still on our radar as a possible building project, Peter did a lot of reading about how dangerous even a tiny amount of asbestos can be and the rigorous precautions required for it’s safe removal.

My next ‘brush’ with asbestos was here at our rented cottage. After a couple of weeks of moving in a pile of old asbestos corrugated sheeting appeared behind the shed. I gave it a wide birth and made sure Leonard did too.

We expected it would just stay there, let’s face it, nothing to do with us, so were quite surprised when one afternoon at the beginning of December three men came into the yard pushing a small, wooden, open topped trailer.

They were wearing those all-in-one white suits with a hood that you see on the TV being worn by scenes of crimes officers when they are collecting evidence. They were obviously here to collect the asbestos.

Whilst all 3 also wore protective gloves, none of them had their hoods up and only 2 of them were wearing a protective breathing mask. The third man, bare headed and bare faced, seemed un-concerned as the three of them proceeded to chuck (I use the word advisedly) the asbestos into the open trailer, which seemed to have a plastic sheet in the bottom.

It didn’t take long for the broken sheets and associated detritus to be loaded, after which they just wheeled it out of the yard without the asbestos being securely sealed or even covered up.

If this wasn’t bad enough, previously, just after the loading had been completed, one of the masked men removed his face mask and gave his nose a vigorous rub with his gloved hand.

Now I know we often complain in the UK that ‘health and safety’ has gone mad, but surely this can’t be right.