The Risks of the Urbex Hobby



There’s a lot of risks you take when your hobby is urban exploration.


First, let me break down what urban exploration is, so you get a clearer picture. Urbex (as some kids like to call it) is just you with some gear, most likely a high-quality camera, looking at abandoned buildings and ruins. Depending on where you live, there can be a lot of these to find.


Why do people do this? Well, there’s just a lot of mystique to old buildings. Why were they abandoned? What were they used for, a long time ago? Were signs of their former glory left behind? What do they tell us about how people used to live?


There are a few risks involved, though.


The foremost is that you’re trespassing. Most of these places are condemned, but might still be private property. Otherwise, they’re not accessible to the public – like some of the most popular urbex spots in Japan.


The other risk, though, is medical. Most of these buildings are crumbling, with a lot of areas that are no longer structurally sound.


There’s also the risk of things like mould and asbestos.


An abandoned warehouse could be lined with the material, especially if it’s old enough. Fibers could have come loose as the walls, and other areas began to decay. If the construction was shoddy, the place has probably contaminated the surrounding area.


Since the fibres are “out of sight, out of mind,” most people don’t give them much thought. This can be a terrible idea since it means you’re not only at a considerable risk, but you’re not doing anything to mitigate it.


Unfortunately, for someone who is dedicated to exploration, there’s not a lot that you can do. Suits that protect from asbestos are industry-grade things, so access to them isn’t readily available.


Given the state of most buildings urbex hobbyists see, there’s no way people can call a removal crew in. That would defeat the point. Explorers want to look at the decay and the fading hints of what was once there.


An asbestos removal team would likely demolish the place if they even agreed to the job. Remember: most of these sites either have owners who no longer care or technically are no longer owned by anyone.


Then again, urbex isn’t a hobby for the faint of heart. There are entirely so many ways and places to take pictures that are awe-inspiring. There are just the risks to your long-term health to consider.

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