Author Archives: norsadorg

Removing Hazardous Waste – The Hidden Health Threat

It’s recently been extensively covered on the news about how many buildings are now known to contain asbestos. For example, in Liverpool several school buildings are known to have this hidden killer hiding in the structure of their facilities.

Rather than scaremongering, it’s important to start by pointing out that asbestos in walls or roofing isn’t dangerous in itself, in fact it can be perfectly safe. The problems come when, over time, those materials begin to wear down as they reach the end of their natural life, or become damaged.

What this means, is that the constituent parts of the building start to separate, allowing the asbestos to loosen and risk leaking into the air. Asbestos particles are tiny, much too small to see, yet are one of the most hazardous things to inhale, as they can easily become lodged in the lungs, and quietly irritate deep inside the chest until one day they cause very serious illnesses.

The big issue facing councils is how to deal with the huge number of buildings that contain asbestos, schools included. It’s all very well telling them to get an expert asbestos company in to dispose of the problem, but the cost to do that across an entire city, let alone an entire country, is astronomical.

Instead, the problem is being monitored and treated on a just in time basis in many areas. That means that surfaces known to contain asbestos are logged and observed, and if there’s reason to believe that a risk is imminent, the problem is dealt with.

The logical behind this approach is easier to see if we still use the schools example. Up until a decade ago, the idea was that a huge rebuilding programme was happening across the country called ‘Building Schools For The Future’, and private companies were bidding to gain the contracts for the building work. Of course, demolition of existing structures was part of that initiative, so the thinking was that this would solve many of the asbestos problems in the process.

However, with the huge slowdown around that time, the project effectively got shelved under Michael Gove’s tenure in the education hot seat (although politicians tend to suggest otherwise), and so the asbestos threat lives on.

That’s not to say that we’re sending children into very dangerous buildings, but it does leave dealing with what will inevitably one day need sorting out.

As we said, it’s not schools specifically that have this problem – asbestos was widely used until a few decades ago, and wasn’t banned in its entirety until the late 1990s.

Awareness is a big part of the current campaign to slowly chip away at getting the problem solved once and for all, as people understanding what the threat is, and when to report concerns help authorities to plan and stay aware of pressing work to be carried out.

What Would You Spend A Lottery Win On?

There’s a wide variety of competitions out there on the web, but one we’ve not really focused on before is Lotto, often referred to by its old name of the National Lottery. It’s almost become a part of normal life now, with the draws not always even making it onto live TV.

If you compare that to the years following the launch of the weekly draw back in 1994, it’s barely recognisable. The first few months of draws were riding on a huge wave of publicity, with people believing it really could be them that became a millionaire next. Back then, it was a simple weekly draw, costing a pound per line and odds of winning were around the 1 in 14 million mark. If that wasn’t enough of a long shot, entering now costs twice as much, and the chance of winning the jackpot is less than a third, just outside 1 in 45 million.

That’s all the boring side for most people though, where the National Lottery, run by Camelot, really succeeds is by selling a dream. The majority of players come from low income areas, which stands to reason, as you’re much more likely to buy into the idea of easy money if you aren’t particularly wealthy. For these households, often near the so called poverty line, the lottery provides hope that one day they’ll climb out of their situation, even if those odds make it a tiny chance.

Speaking to anyone who regularly plays Lotto, the conversation will soon turn to the plans they have for spending that jackpot, when they win. It can sounds as if it’s a given, with the players appearing to be convinced that it’s just a matter of waiting their turn.

Common dreams include holidays with beaches in the sun and fast cars, but some players are more grounded, with sensible plans worked out such as paying off the mortgage, home improvements to make their family safer or just to invest for a rainy day. The spectrum is striking, and statistically, the players who are planning to save any wins are much more likely to escape from Britain’s council estates than those who plan to spend, spend, spend. It’s an interesting observation, as it clearly demonstrates that those individuals have the ability to shape their own financial future, so perhaps that skill would be all the more powerful by not ‘investing’ in their lottery lines in the first place!

So, what have lottery winners in the past done with their winnings? That too is very varied, ranging from those who luck once favoured ultimately ending bankrupt, while others managed to harness their new found wealth, using it to fund new business ventures, and becoming yet more wealthy.

The lottery has been a unique competition in British history, with specific authorisation from government to even exist. While there are other charitable equivalents, none have the same magnitude, and none have come close to enjoying the same level of success. It’s contributed significantly to the perception of what a million means, and is probably directly responsible for people considering that a million pounds is a normal number, where in reality those people probably have no clue just how big the number is in practical terms.

It seems, therefore, appropriate to finish as we started, echoing the fact that Lotto really sells a dream, and for as long as people believe in that dream, to borrow the slogan from the early advertising campaign, it really could be you.

Get Out Onto The Beaches With This Metal Detectorist’s Comp!

If you love the outdoors, we’ve got just the competition for you! It’s said that wherever you are in the country, you’re never more than about 35 miles from the sea. We’ve no idea exactly how true that is, but it’s frequently thrown about as fact. Let’s hope it’s true, because we’ve got a great opportunity for you to get out on the beach and enter a brilliant competition at the same time!

The Metal Detectorist’s Association Of The Midlands is running a promotion to encourage more people to get involved with the exciting hobby, where people look for valuable metals and historical artefacts on the nation’s beaches. From time to time you’ll read about people hitting gold (not literally!) by finding a valuable item while they’re our and about with their metal detector wandering around.

Once seen as a pastime for geeks in headphones, it’s not gaining momentum in the mainstream, particularly for those who want to get a little fitter and make a few new friends. Even if you know nothing about the sport (yes, it’s considered a sport for many!), it’s easy to get started. You can learn the basics about the metal detectors on the web, with amazing sites like metaldetectorexpert.com providing a huge amount of information about how they work and what to buy. You don’t need to invest straight away, as there are plenty of people joining in with this initiative to get you started, and many of them have multiple detectors on hand for you to use on the open day.

You don’t need to do much other than turn up either, just look for your nearest event at the national website for metal detecting and join in the competition!

Bolster Your Bank Balance And Enter Competitions Online

A great way to get stuff for free is to enter loads of competitions on the web. Back when I was a kid, it was magazines like Take A Break that ruled the roost when it came to free entry competitions, along with promotions like Reader’s Digest contests that dropped through the letter box from time to time to tempt you with big cash payouts.

Today, there are a wide range of sites on the web, that keep you up to date with the latest prize draws on television shows that are frequently massive cash competitions or holiday give-aways. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, those same TV programmes have chosen to make entering for free much harder, so you now have to send in your entry on the back of a postcard or envelope, rather than simply logging onto their website.

As we all know, nothing in life is free. Back in the days of the Reader’s Digest, they were looking to learn as much as possible about you so that they have a comprehensive profile on their customer list. It always struck me that customer is a very loose term in this sense, as I’d certainly never bought anything from them. This lifestyle data is, however, incredibly valuable. It allows companies to send marketing material to people who are highly interested in their products and services, which serves two important roles. Firstly, it’s incredibly expensive to market to the population as a whole, and that was even more true before the days of inexpensive email campaigns when you had to pay the Royal Mail to hand deliver flyers. The second benefit is that it helps to reduce advertising blindness. If you get too much advertising thrown at you, it becomes noise, and everything becomes less effective. Just like the TV channels limit their commercial breaks to three minutes, advertising companies are mindful not to bombard you with too much junk mail.

So, returning to the competitions that you see offering huge prizes, they act as a clever way to profile you into specific groups. You might be doubtful, as the free web entry forms don’t ask you much other than for your contact details and the answer to a very simple question. If you think about it a little deeper, though, they know what programme it is you watch, so for example if it’s the Loose Women competition, there’s a good chance you’re a female, and either a parent or retired, otherwise you’d be at work. Granted, it’s not the most scientific method of targeting customers, but on the scale of a national TV show, it’s surprisingly accurate.

Here’s a video of the Loose Women interviewing Zoe Sugg, who’s a YouTube sensation as Zoella, who also pops up in Topshop promotions:

So, next time you enter a competition, you’ll know why they’re offering such a big prize, and where the money to pay for it comes from. It all comes back to advertising, and most likely a big company and their marketing budget.

There’s nothing wrong with getting involved, and you won’t find many of the winners that complain that they entered which they’re enjoying spending the cash, driving their new car or travelling across the world on a free holiday. Let’s face it, pretty much everything we do today is monitored in some way, and while some conspiracy theorists panic about it, it’s probably actually a good thing, as it saves us a lot of hassle compared to the amount of junk mail that would come through the door every day if companies didn’t use more intelligent profiling techniques!

You can find more competitions posted regularly here at Norsad, so we’ll see you soon for more updates.