Asbestos

What is asbestos?

It is a naturally mined mineral used because it is heat and chemical resistant, has great strength and is almost indestructible.

Is all asbestos dangerous?

The fibres themselves are always potentially harmful to health, and can cause serious, sometimes fatal, diseases.

Where has it been used?

Buildings constructed from the 1950's to the late 1970's are likely to contain asbestos. Asbestos is not used in building materials anymore but it was only phased out recently and some materials were still being made using asbestos in the late 1990s.

It can be found in corrugated cement roofs, panels in walls and ceilings, fire doors, roofing felts, floor tiles and textured decorative coatings. Another very common location is in boiler rooms, either as lagging or in the structure of the room.

Does all asbestos need to be removed?

No, in fact this can often create more problems. If the material is in an undamaged condition, or is enclosed it is usually safer to leave it alone.

People in charge of business premises are required to note where it is (or mark it with a label) so that safety measures can be taken if work needs to be done that might disturb it.

Some types of asbestos have to be removed by licensed contractors, and some - such as corrugated cement roofs - do not. All work must be carried out in a safe manner.

What are the legal requirements?

Householders do not have any legal duty other than to dispose of any asbestos safely.

Businesses and organisations have to take steps to identify asbestos in their premises - the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 apply.

The business is required to manage any asbestos so that it does not become a problem, and may need to arrange removal of any that is causing a hazard.

Can asbestos be disposed of at a local recycling centre?

If it is waste from a domestic property, yes. The householder can take small amounts to the local household waste sites, the waste must be double-bagged.

Asbestos waste from any business or trade must be disposed of at a licensed asbestos site. There are very few of these in the UK so the best course of action is to contact a licensed asbestos removal / disposal contractor - you can find them with a quick internet search.