What asbestos is and where it can be found, what you should do if you have it, disposal methods, professional advice and how to find a licensed contractor.
The term ‘asbestos’ refers to a group of six fibrous, naturally occurring minerals. It has many qualities including being durable, flexible, a natural insulation product, great at absorbing sound and having resistance to fire, heat and electricity.
The three main types of asbestos are:
Other less used types are Tremolite, Anthophyllite and Actinolite.
Please note: all of these can harm you if you breathe in dust containing the fibres.
First recorded uses of asbestos date back as early as 2500 B.C. when it was used as a temper for ceramics. Over the years it has also been used in:
It can be found in any industrial or residential building built or refurbished before the year 2000. It is in many common materials used in the building trade, such as pipe lagging, vinyl floor tiles, roofing felt or asbestos insulating board, which could be in partition walls, soffits or ceiling tiles.
The image gallery on the Health and Safety Executive website has examples of where asbestos can be found and gives you an idea of what asbestos can look like.
Yes, asbestos kills around 5,000 workers each year. Around 20 tradesmen die each week as a result of past exposure.
It is not necessarily dangerous when in the home, unless it is disturbed or damaged as this causes fibres to be released into the air. Inhaling asbestos fibres can cause serious diseases, including mesothelioma cancer which is a rare cancer that forms within the lining of the lungs. You will not notice you are affected immediately as these diseases take a long time to develop, but once diagnosed, it is often too late to treat.
You can find out more about the fatal and serious diseases that asbestos can cause on the Health and Safety Executive website. More information about mesothelioma cancer is available on the NHS Choices Website.
More guidance is available on Health and Safety Executive website.
Small amounts of household asbestos, such as up to the size of a single domestic garage and no more than 25 sheets, can be taken to an asbestos bank available at the following household waste recycling sites:
Wrap your asbestos cement waste in thick polythene sheeting (two layers if possible). Seal all the joints with tape to make a parcel, and don't to forget to put some extra protection on the corners of asbestos sheets. This will stop the sharp edges puncturing your parcel. For the health and safety of others do not break up the asbestos!
For larger amounts of household asbestos, or if you are a business who needs to dispose of asbestos, please contact a specialist contractor.
You can find a list of contractors that are licensed to work with asbestos on the Health and Safety Executive website.